How Did Neanderthals Die? We Ate Them

New study suggests cannibalism by modern humans

By Amelia Atlas,  Newser User

Posted May 17, 2009 4:45 AM CDT

(Newser) – Anthropologists may have solved the mystery of how the Neanderthals died out. A new study suggests they were hunted and eaten by modern human beings, reports the Guardian. The controversial theory argues that a Neanderthal jaw bone shows signs of butchering similar to the techniques humans used on deer in the Stone Age. "Neanderthals met a violent end at our hands, and in some cases we ate them," said one fossil expert.

Researchers have long disagreed over whether Neanderthals died violently or were driven to extinction when they lost the race for resources, and the study is certain to spark controversy. Even within the group, scientists disagree about the role of cannibalism. "This does not prove we systematically eradicated the Neanderthals or that we regularly ate their flesh," said one researcher. Yet the study does add another piece of evidence that Neanderthals and humans co-existed in Europe for a time.

A reconstructed Neanderthal skeleton, right, and a a version of a modern human are on display at the Museum of Natural History in New York.
A reconstructed Neanderthal skeleton, right, and a a version of a modern human are on display at the Museum of Natural History in New York.   (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)
A mural depicts Neanderthal life.
A mural depicts Neanderthal life.   (AP Photo/American Museum of Natural History)
A model of Neanderthal man constructed on the basis of excavated bones is on display at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.
A model of Neanderthal man constructed on the basis of excavated bones is on display at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.   (Getty Images)
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We need more evidence, but this could indicate modern humans and Neanderthals were living in the same area of Europe at the same time, and that some of these interactions may have
been hostile. - Chris Stringer, Natural History Museum

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