Neanderthals found decorating their caves with giant skulls
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Spanish researchers from the Museum of Archeology and Paleontology of the Community of Madrid recently discovered in a Neanderthal cave what appears to be a decorative cluster of huge animal skulls that appear to have been collected with symbolic intent.
Neanderthals — it is an ancient species of hominin believed to have lived between 200,000 and 40,000 years ago.
The cave in this study, named Cueva des Cubierta, is located north of the Madrid region in Spain and is believed to have been used by Neanderthals from time to time as a ritual site, possibly as a burial ground.
Since its discovery in 2009, many tools and bone fragments have been found at this site. In the main gallery of the cave, the researchers found the remains of a child, which, according to the researchers, was a Neanderthal.
The third level of the site is strewn with animal bones, with a high concentration of skull fragments of large herbivores, which are about 42 thousand years old.
Most of the 35 skulls belonged to bison and aurochs — extinct relatives of the modern cow. Five skulls of male deer and two rhinos have also been identified.
It is rather unusual to see so many skulls of large animals in such a cave. Modern hunter-gatherer tribes tend to discard the heavy heads of large animals outside their camp as they are less useful as a food source.
The fact that Des Cubiertes Cave contains a disproportionate amount of these skulls suggests that they were brought there on purpose, and not for their nutritional value.
All of these skulls belonged to species with some form of distinctive appendages, such as large horns, and showed signs of human modifications in the form of tool prints and burn marks.
Taken together, these data suggest that the skulls may have been hunting trophies. Their accumulation in a small area also supports this theory and indicates that they may have been gathered together in some kind of hunting sanctuary.
Signs of symbolic behavior have been found earlier at Neanderthal sites, in particular, a collection of skulls sheep and goats in a cave in Italy and two mysterious stone circles made from stalagmites in a cave in France.
it is a generational behavior.
The discovery was published in an article published in the journal Nature Human Behavior. With further study, the team hopes to learn more about the distribution of these remains and determine if the buried child has anything to do with the hunting sanctuary.
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