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Neanderthals showed common sense in determining which animals to hunt

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Treated as if it were a big surprise:

For Martisius’ tiny lissoir fragments, the nondestructive plastic bag method seemed perfect. You get fewer molecules to analyze, says Frido Welker, who performed the ZooMS analysis for Martisius, but at least it provides the possibility of identifying a species without having to take a sample. “For bone artifacts, we should probably always try this approach first,” he says.

The results that Martisius got (recently published in Nature’s Scientific Reports journal) were intriguing. In the archaeological layers where the bone tool pieces had been found, the majority of the animal bones were identified as belonging to reindeer. However, ZooMS identified every one of the lissoir pieces as coming from bison or aurochs (a large, extinct species of cattle). To Martisius, this indicates that Neanderthals hunted plentiful reindeer for food but stuck with the larger animals when it came to choosing raw materials for tools. …

“We have to think about the way Neanderthals saw their prey, and it was more than just as a package of meat,” Martisius told me. “They would have considered parts like the hides, the marrow, and the bones as resources, even selecting certain bones for different purposes.”

Anna Goldfield, “A Spark of Insight Into Neanderthal Behavior” at Sapiens

Why is it ever a big surprise that human beings behave like human beings? What sort of anthropology underlies that?

See also: Neanderthal Man: The long-lost relative turns up again, this time with documents


A deep and abiding need for Neanderthals to be stupid. Why?

This seems silly. First of all, even wolves and other predators select their prey intelligently, so it is hardly surprising if the same can be said for early humans. Secondly, and more to the point, while the Neanderthals killed and ate reindeer, they would have been leery about regularly killing a bison or aurochs as those could be very dangerous compared to reindeer. Rather, the Neanderthals would simply have taken the bones left behind by carcases eaten by other animals. Those bison and aurochs could have died naturally or been killed by larger predators. Early man was more gatherer than hunter, I expect. Why chase and try to kill a bison if you can just pick up the bones after the big cats leave? Fasteddious
Well, they had taste buds, didn't they? "Oh honey, not reindeer AGAIN!!!" EDTA

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