What happened to the Neanderthals

Some scientists think they have discovered what happened to the Neanderthals. The more advanced, more highly evolved homo sapiens ate them:

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.

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.

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  • Interesting. So according to evolution, now not only am I descended from monkeys, but also cannibals?

  • Interesting. So according to evolution, now not only am I descended from monkeys, but also cannibals?

  • Typical overblown conclusion. We don’t know that humans drove Neanderthals to extinction by eating them. We have evidence that one human may have eaten one Neanderthal.

    @Bror: A human eating a Neaderthal would not be cannibalism because Neaderthals were not humans.

  • Typical overblown conclusion. We don’t know that humans drove Neanderthals to extinction by eating them. We have evidence that one human may have eaten one Neanderthal.

    @Bror: A human eating a Neaderthal would not be cannibalism because Neaderthals were not humans.

  • John,
    Do we know what Neanderthals were?
    I tend to agree with you, but…
    And you are right it is an overblown conclusion. It is sensationalist and meant to get the story in the news.

  • John,
    Do we know what Neanderthals were?
    I tend to agree with you, but…
    And you are right it is an overblown conclusion. It is sensationalist and meant to get the story in the news.

  • I’ll probably be sorry I brought this up, but I’ve always wondered if Neanderthals had anything to do with the biblical “Giants in the earth.”

  • I’ll probably be sorry I brought this up, but I’ve always wondered if Neanderthals had anything to do with the biblical “Giants in the earth.”

  • Carl Vehse

    Here’s the link to the original scientific article, “Cutmarked human remains bearing Neandertal features and modern human remains associated with the Aurignacian at Les Rois” (Fernando V. Ramirez Rozzi, Francesco d’Errico, Marian Vanhaeren, Pieter M. Grootes, Bertrand Kerautret & Véronique Dujardin, Journal of Anthropological Sciences, Vol. 87 (2009), pp. 153-185).

  • Carl Vehse

    Here’s the link to the original scientific article, “Cutmarked human remains bearing Neandertal features and modern human remains associated with the Aurignacian at Les Rois” (Fernando V. Ramirez Rozzi, Francesco d’Errico, Marian Vanhaeren, Pieter M. Grootes, Bertrand Kerautret & Véronique Dujardin, Journal of Anthropological Sciences, Vol. 87 (2009), pp. 153-185).

  • Bror: Neanderthals were human-like in some ways, but there is near universal agreement now that they were not human ancestors. The nail in the coffin for the ancestry theory was when Neanderthal DNA was discovered and sequenced. The DNA is just too different from human DNA.

    When I say “human” I mean what anthropologist would call “modern human.” Anthropologists would say Neanderthals were “human” because all bipedal primates are classified as “human.” But they would agree that Neanderthals were not from our species.

    Neanderthals were creatures that resembled humans, just as chimpanzees resemble humans, but they were not created in the image of God. They do not appear to have left artistic or religious artifacts. Their skulls suggest they couldn’t cry. Archeology suggests they didn’t have a human soul.

  • Bror: Neanderthals were human-like in some ways, but there is near universal agreement now that they were not human ancestors. The nail in the coffin for the ancestry theory was when Neanderthal DNA was discovered and sequenced. The DNA is just too different from human DNA.

    When I say “human” I mean what anthropologist would call “modern human.” Anthropologists would say Neanderthals were “human” because all bipedal primates are classified as “human.” But they would agree that Neanderthals were not from our species.

    Neanderthals were creatures that resembled humans, just as chimpanzees resemble humans, but they were not created in the image of God. They do not appear to have left artistic or religious artifacts. Their skulls suggest they couldn’t cry. Archeology suggests they didn’t have a human soul.

  • Carl Vehse

    In the article Rozzi, et al., suggest cannibalism as one of three different conclusions and also state (p. 174):

    “Similarly located and oriented cutmarks are observed on the juvenile Neandertal mandible from the Mousterian site of Moula-Guercy (France) and interpreted, like those on the other human remains found at this site, as evidence for cannibalism (Defleur et al., 1999). In our case, however, contextual pieces of information needed to favour the cannibalistic interpretation are missing. Three other reasons make Les Rois evidence ambiguous.”

    It appears that the reporter, Robin McKie, may have exaggerated the article’s one suggested conclusion into a larger explanation of what happened to all the Neanderthals. At least McKie does mention near the end of his article that not all of the research team agrees with the conclusion that cannibalism occurred at the site.

  • Carl Vehse

    In the article Rozzi, et al., suggest cannibalism as one of three different conclusions and also state (p. 174):

    “Similarly located and oriented cutmarks are observed on the juvenile Neandertal mandible from the Mousterian site of Moula-Guercy (France) and interpreted, like those on the other human remains found at this site, as evidence for cannibalism (Defleur et al., 1999). In our case, however, contextual pieces of information needed to favour the cannibalistic interpretation are missing. Three other reasons make Les Rois evidence ambiguous.”

    It appears that the reporter, Robin McKie, may have exaggerated the article’s one suggested conclusion into a larger explanation of what happened to all the Neanderthals. At least McKie does mention near the end of his article that not all of the research team agrees with the conclusion that cannibalism occurred at the site.

  • From the same article, the last paragraph:

    “Given the paucity of human remains from the early Upper Palaeolithic and the relative antiquity of the excavations, which were not conducted to modern standards, it is difficult to reach a definite conclusion.”

    ‘Nuf said.

  • From the same article, the last paragraph:

    “Given the paucity of human remains from the early Upper Palaeolithic and the relative antiquity of the excavations, which were not conducted to modern standards, it is difficult to reach a definite conclusion.”

    ‘Nuf said.

  • Michael Z.

    Homo Sapiens have been eating Homo Sapiens for millenia. Is it a big surprise that they would eat someone who looked a a little bit different from them? Seriously this is nothing new.

  • Michael Z.

    Homo Sapiens have been eating Homo Sapiens for millenia. Is it a big surprise that they would eat someone who looked a a little bit different from them? Seriously this is nothing new.

  • For more interesting speculation on the subject, I would suggest the novel The Clan of the Cave Bear. The entire book is about what happens when members of the two groups run into each other.

    But eaten? Those poor flat-heads!

  • For more interesting speculation on the subject, I would suggest the novel The Clan of the Cave Bear. The entire book is about what happens when members of the two groups run into each other.

    But eaten? Those poor flat-heads!

  • Well, this article did NOT make the news. I took this from a relatively obscure scholarly site. Archaeologists, as the article alludes to, tend to downplay evidence of cannibalism when done by people thought to be “noble savages.” A stronger example is the evidence of cannibalism found among ancient Native Americans, particularly the Anasazi people.

    The point is not that we “evolved” from cannibals, since the cannibalizers were our own species and our own ancestors.

    If true, this would not surprise me a bit, given the depravity of man.

    That the artistically-sensitive, highly evolved flute players were also brutal butchers and consumers of creatures a little different from them fits perfectly the Biblical view of fallen humanity.

  • Well, this article did NOT make the news. I took this from a relatively obscure scholarly site. Archaeologists, as the article alludes to, tend to downplay evidence of cannibalism when done by people thought to be “noble savages.” A stronger example is the evidence of cannibalism found among ancient Native Americans, particularly the Anasazi people.

    The point is not that we “evolved” from cannibals, since the cannibalizers were our own species and our own ancestors.

    If true, this would not surprise me a bit, given the depravity of man.

    That the artistically-sensitive, highly evolved flute players were also brutal butchers and consumers of creatures a little different from them fits perfectly the Biblical view of fallen humanity.

  • wayne pelling

    Yes given the depravity of man,it is no wonder that english settlers ensured that Tasmanian Aborigines-a different race to Mainland Australian aborigines-as full bloodlines ,became extinct. History repeating itself.

  • wayne pelling

    Yes given the depravity of man,it is no wonder that english settlers ensured that Tasmanian Aborigines-a different race to Mainland Australian aborigines-as full bloodlines ,became extinct. History repeating itself.

  • WebMonk

    John #6, I wouldn’t be quite so fast to say they didn’t have any art. Part of the problem is that they existed such a long time ago, that objects from them aside from stones is very rare.

    There have been a couple sites that indicate they started to borrow jewelry from the “Moderns” when the two groups started to interact before the Neanderthals went extinct. I realize that monkeys do the same thing, so it’s not a slam dunk. There was also a Neanderthal “mask” found. It’s a bit iffy still as to whether or not they had any art, but definite statements to the negative aren’t really supportable.

    They definitely used fire and made carefully worked spears. They were able to make glues and skin animals. They were definitely an order of magnitude more capable than monkeys in areas. (whether that includes art, I don’t know for sure, but they may have had a little) What exactly they were, I don’t know.

  • WebMonk

    John #6, I wouldn’t be quite so fast to say they didn’t have any art. Part of the problem is that they existed such a long time ago, that objects from them aside from stones is very rare.

    There have been a couple sites that indicate they started to borrow jewelry from the “Moderns” when the two groups started to interact before the Neanderthals went extinct. I realize that monkeys do the same thing, so it’s not a slam dunk. There was also a Neanderthal “mask” found. It’s a bit iffy still as to whether or not they had any art, but definite statements to the negative aren’t really supportable.

    They definitely used fire and made carefully worked spears. They were able to make glues and skin animals. They were definitely an order of magnitude more capable than monkeys in areas. (whether that includes art, I don’t know for sure, but they may have had a little) What exactly they were, I don’t know.

  • kerner

    What happened to the Neanderthals?

    They still live in New Jersey.

  • kerner

    What happened to the Neanderthals?

    They still live in New Jersey.

  • Carl Vehse

    A number of them seem to have moved to California to star in TV commercials and sitcoms.

  • Carl Vehse

    A number of them seem to have moved to California to star in TV commercials and sitcoms.