A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America
Evidence Suggests Neanderthals Hunted Cave Lions
Friday, October 13, 2023
TÜBINGEN, GERMANY—Neanderthals may have hunted cave lions (Panthera spelaea), according to a Gizmodo report. Paleoanthropologist Gabriele Russo of the University of Tübingen and her colleagues examined the remains of four Ice Age cave lions previously unearthed in Germany. Marks on the bones of one of the lions, which lived about 48,000 years ago, suggest that it was hit with a wooden-tipped spear, a weapon known to have been used by Neanderthals. Study of the paw bones of the other three lions, which lived around 190,000 years ago, revealed that they were butchered in a way that removed their claws along with their fur, perhaps to preserve the pelt for ornamental value. “These interactions encompassed not only the cultural use of lion body parts but also the ability to hunt them,” Russo explained. “Initially, this behavior was exclusively attributed to our species, Homo sapiens,” she added, noting that there is no evidence that modern humans or any other hominins lived in the region at the time these lions were butchered. To read about the relationship between humans and lions in a variety of cultures, go to "When Lions Were King."
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