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About 125,000 years ago, giant elephants weighed eight cars each he was walking around when he was now northern europe.
Scientifically known as Palaeoloxodon antiquus, the pygmy animals were the largest land mammals of the Pleistocene, standing over 13 feet (4 meters) tall. Despite this large size, now extinct flat-tusked elephants According to a new study of the remains of 70 animals found in an area known as Neumark-Nord near the city of Halle in central Germany, they were regularly hunted and systematically slaughtered for their meat by Neanderthals.
What the discovery shakes We know how the extinct hominins organized their lives for more than 300,000 years before disappearing about 40,000 years ago. Neanderthals were extremely skilled hunters, knew how to preserve meat, and lived a more settled life in larger groups than many scientists have assumed.
A distinctive pattern of repeated cut marks on the surface of the well-preserved bones—the same position in different animals and on the left and right skeletal parts of an individual animal—revealed that giant elephants were butchered for their meat, fat, and brains. after death, after a more or less standard procedure for about 2000 years. Given that a single adult male animal weighs 13 metric tons (more than twice that of an African elephant), the butchering process likely involved a large number of people and took days to complete.
Stone tools have been found in Northern Europe along with other flat-tusked elephant remains with some cut marks. However, scientists have never been clear on whether early humans actively hunted elephants cleaned meat from those who died of natural causes. The authors of the study, published in the journal Wednesday, said the large number of ivories with a systematic pattern of incisal markings put that debate to rest. Advances in science.
According to study co-author Wil Roebroeks, a professor of Paleolithic archeology at Leiden University in Germany, Neanderthals used spears found elsewhere in Germany to target male elephants. According to the study, the site’s demographics were skewed toward older and male elephants than would be expected if the animals had died naturally.
“It’s a matter of immobilizing the animals or driving them onto muddy banks so their weight works against them,” he said. “If you can immobilize a few people and get them stuck in a spot. It is a matter of finishing them.”
Britt M. Starkovich, a researcher at the Senckenberg Center for Human Evolution and Paleoenvironment, says that the most surprising thing about the discovery was not that Neanderthals could hunt such large animals, but that they knew what to do with the meat. Tübingen in Germany, in a statement published with the study.
“Revenue is foolish: more than 2,500 daily servings with 4,000 calories per serving. Thus, a group of 25 foragers could eat a flat-tusked elephant for 3 months, 100 foragers for a month, and 350 people for a week,” wrote Starkovich, who was not involved in the research.
“Neanderthals knew what they were doing. They knew what kind of people to hunt, where to find them, and how to carry out the attack. Critically, they knew what to expect with a huge butchering effort and a bigger meat return.
Roebroeks says the Neanderthals who lived there probably knew how to preserve meat using meat and smoke. Sabine Gaudzinski-Windheuser, a professor of prehistoric and protohistoric archeology and a co-author of the study, says it’s also possible that such a meat bonanza was an opportunity for a temporary gathering of people from a larger social network. at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany.
He explained that this event can serve as a marriage market. Moment October 2022 study Based on the ancient DNA of a small group of Neanderthals living in what is now Siberia, it suggested that women married outside their communities, noted Gaudzinski-Windheiser, who is also director of the Monrepos Archaeological Research Center and the Museum of Human Behavioral Evolution in Neuwied.
“We don’t see it in the archaeological record, but I think the real benefit of this research is that everything is on the table now,” he said.
Scientists have long thought that Neanderthals were very mobile and They lived in small groups of 20 or less. However, this latest finding suggests that they may have lived in larger groups and were more sedentary in this particular place and time when food was abundant and the climate was good. The climate at that time—before the ice sheets developed at the start of the last ice age, about 100,000 to 25,000 years ago—was similar to today’s conditions.
The study found that, based on the number found, about one animal is killed at the site every five to six years. According to the researchers, it is possible that more elephant remains were destroyed because the site is part of an open-pit mining area. Other finds at the site suggest that Neanderthals hunted large numbers of animals along a lake landscape populated by wild animals. horses, deer and red deer.
More broadly, the study highlights that Neanderthals were not the wild cave dwellers often portrayed in popular culture. In fact, the opposite is true: They were skilled hunters, understood how to process and preserve food, and thrived in diverse ecosystems and climates. Neanderthals also have sophisticated tools yarn and artand they they buried their dead with care.
“In addition to the more recognizable human traits we know of Neanderthals – caring for the sick, burying their dead, and sometimes making symbolic representations – we now have to consider that they had preservation technologies for storing food and were sometimes semi-sedentary, or sometimes operated in larger groups than we imagine.” were showing,” said Starkovich.
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