Neanderthals Hunted Huge Elephants in Northern Europe

- Article Top Advertisement -

There are about 125 thousand years, huge elephants that weighed the equivalent of eight cars each roamed the what is now northern Europe.

scientifically named paleoloxodon antiquusyou imposing animals were the largest land mammals in the world. Pleistocene, more than four meters high.

- Article Inline Advertisement 1-

despite the imposing size, the now extinct giant elephants with straight tusks were routinely hunted and systematically slaughtered by Neanderthals, according to a new study of the remains of 70 animals found at a location in central Germany known as Neumark-Nord, near the city of Halle.

The discovery is changing what we know about how these hominins that existed more than 300 thousand years ago and disappeared about 40 thousand years ago years, organized their lives. According to the research, the Neanderthals were highly skilled hunters, knew how to preserve meat and lived in groups larger than many scholars had predicted.

- Advertisement -

A distinctive pattern of repetitive crop marks on the surface of well-preserved bones – checked on both the sides of skeletons in different animals – revealed that giant elephants were dismembered after death, through a more or less standard procedure that lasted for about of 2 a thousand years.

Given that a single adult male animal weighed 13 tons (twice as much as an elephant present-day African), the slaughter process probably involved a large number of people and took days to be concluded.

Stone tools have been found in northern Europe with other remains of elephants with some cut marks.

However, scientists have never been clear about whether the early humans actively hunted elephants or they took the flesh of those who died of natural causes. The large number of elephant bones with the pattern systematic use of crop marks has put this debate to one side, according to the authors of the study published on Wednesday (1) in the magazine “Science Advances”.

Neanderthals probably used throwing spears – that were found elsewhere in Germany – to target male elephants because of their larger size and solitary behavior, according to study co-author Wil Roebroeks, professor of Paleolithic archeology at University of Leiden, Germany.

The demography of the place suggests older, male elephants than would be expected if the animals died naturally, according to the study.

“It’s all a matter of immobilizing these animals or taking them to the muddy shores to make your weight work against them,” he explained. “If someone manages to immobilize a elephant with the help of a group of people and corner it in one area, it’s easier to kill him.”

Game meat preparation

What was most surprising to researchers was not that Neanderthals were able to hunt such large animals, but that they knew what to do with the meat, said Britt M. Starkovich of the Senckenberg Center for Human Evolution and Paleoenvironment at the University of Tübingen in Germany.

“The yield is impressive: more than 2,500 daily servings with 4,000 calories per serving. A group of 25 Neanderthals could thus eat an elephant for three months; 100 of them could eat for a month, and 350 people could eat for a week,” wrote Starkovich, who was not involved in the research.

“Neanderthals knew what they were doing. They knew which individuals to hunt, where to find them and how to attack. They were aware, above all, of what to expect with a huge slaughter effort and an even greater return of meat”.

Neanderthals probably also knew how to preserving and storing meat, perhaps by means of fire and smoke, Roebroeks said. It is also possible that this protein bonanza has been an opportunity to temporary encounters of people from a larger social network, noted study co-author Sabine Gaudzinski-
Windheuser, professor of prehistoric archeology and protohistorical faculty of the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany.

She explained that the occasion could perhaps serve as a type wedding market. One October 2022 study, based on ancient DNA from a small group of Neanderthals who lived in present-day Siberia, suggested that women married outside their community, according to Gaudzinski- Windheuser, who is also director of the Research Center Archeology of Monrepos and the Museum of Evolution Human Behavior in Neuwied.

“We don’t see that in the archaeological record, but I think the real benefit of this study is that we now have several elements on the table,” he said.

change of perception

Scientists have long thought that Neanderthals were highly nomadic and lived in small groups of maximum 20 members.

However, the latest finding suggests that they may have lived in much larger groups and been more sedentary in that particular place and time, when the food was plentiful and the weather benign.

The weather at the time – before the ice sheets advanced in the last age of the ice, between 100 thousand and 25 thousand years ago – would have been similar to current conditions.

Killing an elephant that size was not an event. daily, according to the study, which estimates that there was a slaughter every five or six years, based on the number found in the search location.

It is possible, however, that other remains of elephants have been destroyed, as the site forms part of an open mine, according to the researchers.

Others finds at the site suggested that Neanderthals hunted a wide variety of animals in a lake landscape populated by wild horses, fallow deer and red deer.

More broadly, the study highlights the fact that Neanderthals were not the brutal cave dwellers so often depicted in popular culture. In fact, the opposite is true: they were skilled hunters, understood how to process and preserve food, and thrived in a variety of different environments.
ecosystems and climates. Neanderthals also made sophisticated tools, yarn and art, and buried their dead carefully.

“Aside from the more recognizably human traits we know Neanderthals had – like caring for the sick, burying their dead and keeping occasional symbolic representations – we now also need to consider that they had preservation technologies for storing food and were occasionally sedentary and operated in larger groups. than we ever imagined,” Starkovich listed.

Source: CNN Brasil

- Article Bottom Advertisement -


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Hot Topics

Related Articles