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
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)
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(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.
(Read more Neanderthals stories.)

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