The latest news in the search for the fate of our prehistoric cousins:
One of science's most puzzling mysteries - the disappearance of the Neanderthals - may have been solved. Modern humans ate them, says a leading fossil expert.It's long been postulated that the Neanderthal extinction was caused at least in part by modern humans either through competition for food resources and/or by more brutal means as suggested above, and while this new piece of evidence is revelatory I'm reserving judgement until more examples can be found. And of course as we've seen before, cannibalism is fairly common amongst humans despite Western society's anathema to the practice. I'm not suggesting that it's a practice we should embrace but only rather that we must acknowledge who we were and where we've come from before we can understand who we will become and where we're going as a species.
The controversial suggestion follows publication of a study in the Journal of Anthropological Sciences about a Neanderthal jawbone apparently butchered by modern humans. Now the leader of the research team says he believes the flesh had been eaten by humans, while its teeth may have been used to make a necklace.
Fernando Rozzi, of Paris's Centre National de la Récherche Scientifique, said the jawbone had probably been cut into to remove flesh, including the tongue. Crucially, the butchery was similar to that used by humans to cut up deer carcass in the early Stone Age. "Neanderthals met a violent end at our hands and in some cases we ate them," Rozzi said.
The idea will provoke considerable opposition from scientists who believe Neanderthals disappeared for reasons that did not involve violence. Neanderthals were a sturdy species who evolved in Europe 300,000 years ago, made complex stone tools and survived several ice ages before they disappeared 30,000 years ago - just as modern human beings arrived in Europe from Africa.