According to one controversial theory from a leading fossil expert, we can blame the disappearance of the Neanderthals on modern humans. Apparently, our ancestors ate them.
The suggestion was put on the table after a study in the Journal of Anthropological Sciences detailed a Neanderthal jawbone being butchered by modern humans. Now, Fernando Rozzi is proposing that this unlucky Neanderthal’s flesh had been consumed by humans, and his teeth were used to make jewelry.
“Neanderthals met a violent end at our hands and, in some cases, we ate them,” Rozzi claims.
Without a doubt, the idea will spark debate and opposition in the scientific community. Many established scientists believe Neanderthals disappeared for other reasons, though their disappearance just as modern humans arrived in Europe has been a long-standing mystery.
Some researchers think Neanderthals simply failed to compete with Homo sapiens for resources and were more vulnerable to the impact of climate change. Others, like Rozzi, think they suffered a more gruesome fate.
When Rozzi’s team re-examined excavations, they found a Neanderthal bone among a group of human bones. It was covered in cut marks similar to those left behind on deer and other animals when their flesh is stripped by stone tools.
“For years, people have tried to away from the evidence of cannibalism, but I think we have to accept it took place,” he added.
While compelling, the discovery does “not make a complete case for cannibalism.” It’s also possible that humans stumbled upon the jawbone and decided to resource the teeth for jewelry.
“We do need more evidence, but this could indicate modern humans and Neanderthals were living in the same area of Europe at the same time, that they were interacting, and that some of these interactions may have been hostile,” Professor Chris Stringer from the Natural History Museum, says. “This does not prove we systematically eradicated the Neanderthals or that we regularly ate their flesh. But it does add to the evidence that competition from modern humans probably contributed to Neanderthal extinction.”
Source: The Guardian