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Neanderthals Were Cannibals, Study Confirms


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#1    GreyWeather

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Posted 05 December 2006 - 05:49 PM

  Neanderthals suffered periods of starvation and may have supplemented their diet through cannibalism, according to a study of remains from northwest Spain.

Paleobiologists studied samples from eight 43,000-year-old Neanderthal skeletons excavated from an underground cave in El Sidrón, Spain since 2000. The study sheds light on how Neanderthals lived before the arrival of modern humans in Europe.

Researchers found cut marks and evidence that bones had been torn apart, which they say could indicate cannibalism.

"There is strong evidence suggesting that these Neanderthals were eaten," said the study's lead author, Antonio Rosas of the Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales in Madrid. "That is, long bones and the skull were broken for extraction of the marrow, [which] is very nutritious."

According to Rosas, there is evidence of cannibalism in Neanderthal remains from other European sites.

"I would say this practice… was general among Neanderthal populations," he said.

Teeth from the remains showed evidence of periods of starvation or minimal nutrition, particularly during difficult life transitions like weaning or adolescence, according to Rosas.

Teeth grow by adding thin layers of enamel, but when some change in the natural development of the individual occurs, the enamel is deposited more slowly, or stops altogether, Rosas explained. Outside forces like climate or illness could also affect tooth growth, he said.

"So mostly harsh winters, together with physiological difficulties in the life history of these people may explain what we found," Rosas told LiveScience.

Rosas' team also noticed that southern Neanderthals had wider, flatter faces than northern Neanderthals. Exactly why this variation is seen is still a matter of debate, but according to Rosas the most likely explanation is adaptation to the climate. For example, people exposed to the cold environment of the North may have developed longer noses for heating the air, he said.


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Sapiens and neanderthal's aren't that different, seeing as we also go cannibal when starvation sets in.

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#2    Bella-Angelique

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Posted 05 December 2006 - 05:56 PM

When the ground is too hard to dig into to bury, they may have just laid them out in the snow and ice and used them as a last resort for food.

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#3    SilverCougar

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Posted 05 December 2006 - 06:44 PM

After reading a few other articles on this.. it really does look like it's one of those last resort kind of things.  Everyone had pointed to conditions being so horrid that it was either eat the dead, or die themselves.

Which, has happened in modernday humans from time to time.

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#4    Raptor

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Posted 05 December 2006 - 07:25 PM

It was speculated quite a while ago that neanderthals were cannibalistic, there was evidence of Prion disease epidemics (think of CJD/Mad Cow disease), which are easily spread through ingestion of infected tissue. I guess this confirms it.

Although I wonder if it really was down to malnutrition, after all, some chimpanzees troops are also cannibalistic. Maybe it was cultural.


#5    carini

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Posted 05 December 2006 - 08:34 PM

Humans are cannibals under the right conditions. Kuru is a disease caused by cannibalism.

Humans are the only animal to force other animals to become cannibals too. Just look at mad cow disease. Gotta love humanity forcing cows to eat cows.


#6    Raptor

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Posted 05 December 2006 - 08:47 PM

Quote


Humans are cannibals under the right conditions. Kuru is a disease caused by cannibalism.


Kuru is a disease that's transmitted through cannibalism, although that's not what causes it.

Quote


Humans are the only animal to force other animals to become cannibals too. Just look at mad cow disease. Gotta love humanity forcing cows to eat cows.


huh.gif Mad Cow disease has nothing to do with cows cannibalizing. Infact it's impossible for cows to even eat meat.

Edited by Raptor X7, 05 December 2006 - 08:47 PM.


#7    MadMachine

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Posted 05 December 2006 - 09:00 PM

Quote

Mad Cow disease has nothing to do with cows cannibalizing. Infact it's impossible for cows to even eat meat.

I'm probably wrong, but I thought I read somewhere that on cow farms, calves are fed the blood of other cows in place of milk sometimes.
Can someone please tell me whether or not that's true, and provide a link maybe?

ERODE

#8    SilverCougar

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Posted 05 December 2006 - 09:17 PM

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huh.gif Mad Cow disease has nothing to do with cows cannibalizing. Infact it's impossible for cows to even eat meat.



Mad Cow had develouped because farmers feed their cows bone meal.  Bone meal is from well... bone.  Bones from previously slaughtered cows.  So in a way, it's forced cannibalizm.

The disease itself is a form of protein, which is why it's damned near impossible to cure.

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#9    Avinash_Tyagi

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Posted 06 December 2006 - 12:07 AM

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huh.gif Mad Cow disease has nothing to do with cows cannibalizing. Infact it's impossible for cows to even eat meat.


The use of meat and bone meal as a protein supplement in cattle feed was widespread in Europe prior to about 1987.


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#10    Irish

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Posted 06 December 2006 - 12:12 AM

That’s why humans developed a sense of humour at that point in evolution.
They stopped eating each other because they suddenly tasted funny. original.gif

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#11    SwampGator

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Posted 06 December 2006 - 12:21 AM

Geesh Irish....I just fell off the couch.... rofl.gif  thumbsup.gif

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#12    SilverCougar

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Posted 06 December 2006 - 12:45 AM

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That’s why humans developed a sense of humour at that point in evolution.
They stopped eating each other because they suddenly tasted funny. original.gif

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#13    Raptor

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Posted 06 December 2006 - 01:08 AM

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huh.gif Mad Cow disease has nothing to do with cows cannibalizing. Infact it's impossible for cows to even eat meat.


blush.gif I stand corrected.

Quote

Mad Cow had develouped because farmers feed their cows bone meal. Bone meal is from well... bone. Bones from previously slaughtered cows. So in a way, it's forced cannibalizm.

The disease itself is a form of protein, which is why it's damned near impossible to cure.


Thanks.  thumbsup.gif


#14    SilverCougar

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Posted 06 December 2006 - 01:18 AM

X) welcome!

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#15    carini

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Posted 06 December 2006 - 05:37 AM

Mmmmm, mmmmm, mmmmm.

Prions.







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