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Possible Neanderthal Hunting Tactic Explored

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

SEVILLE, SPAIN—Science News reports that ornithologist Juan Negro of Spain’s National Research Council and his colleagues attempted to hunt choughs, a crow-like bird whose butchered bones have been recovered from caves once inhabited by Neanderthals. The researchers armed themselves with butterfly nets and flashlights, instead of the nets and fire presumed to have been used by Neanderthal hunters, and snuck into caves around Spain where choughs tend to roost in groups. They found that bringing light into the dark caves confused the birds, and drove them into dead-end areas, where they were easily scooped up, even bare-handed. The experimenters then released the birds unharmed. “You have to be intelligent to capture these animals, to process them, to roast and eat them,” Negro commented. “We tend to think that [Neanderthals] were brutes with no intelligence, but in fact, the evidence is accumulating that they were very close to Homo sapiens.” Read the original scholarly article about this research in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. To read about 300,000-year-old spears likely used by Neanderthals, go to "Weapons of the Ancient World: Hunting Equipment."

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