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Neanderthals Were Cannibals; Evidence Found In Belgium Caves

First Posted: Jan 02, 2017 02:41 AM EST
Stone Age Hunters
Circa 500,000 B.C., Neanderthal cavemen hunting the cave bear. (Image for representation only.)
(Photo : Three Lions/Getty Images)

The Belgium researchers discovered evidence that Neanderthals were cannibals. They found human bones from a newborn, a child and four adults or teenagers who lived dated 40,000 years ago inside the caves of Goyet in Belgium.

Christian Casseyas, a Belgian archaeologist, said that it is irrefutable; cannibalism was practiced here (referring to the caves). The team said that there were signs of cutting and of fractures to extract the marrow within. The bones were dated back when Neanderthals were almost at the end of their time on Earth before being replaced by Homo sapiens.

Neanderthals were species or subspecies of archaic human, in the genus Homo. They vanished around 40,000 years ago. Their remains include bone and stone tools that were found in Eurasia, from Western Europe to Central and Northern Asia. In the previous studies, they indicated that Neanderthals took care of the bodies of their deceased and had burial rituals. On the other hand, there was also proof that Neanderthals also ate their dead.

According to Phys.org, the cases of Neanderthal cannibalism were discovered in Neanderthal populations at El Sidron and Zafarraya in southern Europe in Spain and Moula-Guercy and Les Pradelles in France. Meanwhile, a geologist and director of the Royal Museum of natural History of Belgium searched many caves including Goyet caves and found a huge quantity of bones and tools in 1867. His discoveries were stored at the Brussels Institute of Natural Sciences for over a century.

Currently, the researchers led by Helene Rougier, an anthropologist at California State University Northridge in the United States, had shown that the discoveries found in Goyet caves proved that Neanderthals were cannibals. Christian Casseyas said that the bones had traces of cutting, wherein there was disarticulating and removing of the flesh that occurred. He added that the Neanderthals broke these bones in the same way that they broke those of the reindeer and horses found at the entrance of the cave, certainly to extract the marrow.

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