Researchers studying a large deposit of Neanderthal bones in Italy have discovered the remains of birds along with the bones, and evidence the feathers were probably used for ornamentation. The findings add evidence that the now extinct Neanderthals could have been as cultured as our own ancestors.
From 44,000 years ago,
The 660 bird bones included wing bones showing evidence of scraping, peeling and cutting by stone tools at the points at which the large flight feathers would have been attached. The feathers would have been of no culinary value and many of the bird species are poor food sources in any case. Feathered arrows had not yet been invented, and so the feathers would have had no practical value either, which suggests they were most likely removed for use as ornamentation or decoration.
One wonders whether the smaller feathers were used for insulated bedding. Other finds have included shells found with bones, which, some researchers suggest, may have been ornaments. Hmmm. Probably so, if the shells have been pierced. But shells can also be used as spoons or dishes, depending on their size.