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Study Suggests Neanderthals Regularly Hunted Rabbits

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Rabbit Marrow BonesOULU, FINLAND—Maxime Pelletier of the University of Oulu and his colleagues analyzed more than 16,000 butchered rabbit and hare bones uncovered at France’s Pié Lombard site, according to a Cosmos Magazine report. Pelletier said the bones, which were found in a 70,000-year-old layer of the rock shelter containing Mousterian stone tools, represent at least 225 individual animals. It had been previously thought that Neanderthals mainly hunted large, slow-moving animals, and only sporadically caught small game, but these bones bear cut marks from Mousterian tools and show signs of roasting. Most of the long limb bones had been snapped in two to remove the marrow, ruling out the possibility that the animals had been carried to the shelter by other predators. “It’s impossible for predators to make this type of breakage,” Pelletier explained. He also noted that the bones of rabbit paws and tails were missing from the collection, hinting that the pelts may have been removed from the animals with feet and tail intact. “We cannot imagine the Neanderthals just consumed the meat and didn’t exploit the fur after,” he added. For more on Neanderthals' hunting of smaller prey, go to "Neanderthal Fashion Statement."

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