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Topic: Evidence of Cannabalism in Neadertals (Read 438 times) previous topic - next topic

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Evidence of Cannabalism in Neadertals
Pop-sci article here.

This particular site is in Belgium and is from the very end times of Neandertals. 

Note that "cannabalism" does not necessarily mean that living individuals were consigned to the pot: this may just be one means of dealing with community members who have died from unrelated causes.  Or perhaps of dealing with outsiders.  Note, however, that DNA analysis shows that all the human fossils analyzed (whether or not there were signs of "butchery" or other processing of remains) were closely related, with little genetic variation.

  • SkepticTank
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Re: Evidence of Cannabalism in Neadertals
Reply #1
How many carnivores are not cannibalstic given extreme conditions?

  • osmanthus
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Re: Evidence of Cannabalism in Neadertals
Reply #2
Note, however, that DNA analysis shows that all the human fossils analyzed (whether or not there were signs of "butchery" or other processing of remains) were closely related, with little genetic variation.
Yes, but...

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By making a complete analysis of the mitochondrial DNA of ten Neanderthals, the researchers doubled the existing genetic data on this species of humans which died out some 30,000 years ago. They confirmed earlier studies' results, which showed relatively little genetic variation in late European Neanderthals -- in other words, that they were closely related to one another.
So "closely related" in this case does not necessarily imply "same tribe" or "same family grouping" or whatever. They could still have been "outsiders" while still being "closely related", due to the low genetic variation over the whole Neanderthal population.

What I find interesting is that this case shows the bones of butchered individuals being used as tools. AFAIK that is unusual for human cultures that practiced ritual endocannibalism.

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Four bones from Goyet clearly indicate that Neanderthals used their deceased relatives' bones as tools; one thigh bone and three shinbones were used to shape stone tools.
This would imply that the butchered individuals may have been enemies, since their bones were apparently treated as utilitarian disposable objects.

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Re: Evidence of Cannabalism in Neadertals
Reply #3
Thank you for that link, Steviepinhead:cheer: 

The question arose in my mind: How do we know that the butchering was done by Neandertals and not early European anatomically modern humans? Though the ScienceDirect article doesn't answer that, fortunately the full paper is available for free ("Neandertal cannibalism and Neandertal bones used as tools in Northern Europe" | Scientific Reports). From the paper:

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Goyet provides the first unambiguous evidence of Neandertal cannibalism in Northern Europe and given the dates obtained on the Neandertal remains, it is most likely that they were processed by their fellow Neandertals as no modern humans are known to have been in the region at the time.

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Re: Evidence of Cannabalism in Neadertals
Reply #4
I noticed that too, os. 'Closely related' doesn't mean they weren't enemies of the cannibalised individuals. I mean, my fourth or fifth cousins are closely related to me six ways to sunday due to an embarrassingly small gene pool, but there's probably close to fifty of them I've never met, even though they don't live all that great a distance away. We could be mortal enemies in the right context, maybe these cousin-eating cannibals' victims' great grandfather was a total disgrace who stole the clan's sacred bear skull totem three generations ago.

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Re: Evidence of Cannabalism in Neadertals
Reply #5
In these modern times, murder is most often committed by someone close to the victim. Indeed, in historical accounts of murder, the perpetrator is often close to the victims, though that data is likely skewed by the fact only notable murders end up in historical accounts.
Are we there yet?

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Re: Evidence of Cannabalism in Neadertals
Reply #6
Yes, but here you have a people who've previously been noted as having some degree of respect for their dead relatives, burials, flowers, red ochre sprinkles, and no evidence they ate them or used their bones as common tools, like any other animal bone, or did that to their enemies (though maybe they did and we only found this instance). So at some point the eaters had to decide their cousins (even if complete strangers) were enough like animals to treat their bodies as animals. So it's interesting.

  • MikeS
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Re: Evidence of Cannabalism in Neadertals
Reply #7
How many spelling changes has this human cousin gone through?

When I was young it was:  Neanderthals.
Then:  Neandertals
Now (from the thread title):  Neadertals???

How about just: Thugs.  Because that is how they are always potrayed, as this thuggish semi-human.

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Re: Evidence of Cannabalism in Neadertals
Reply #8
I dunno, Mike, I think they've gotten better press in the past several decades. I think most people now see Neanderthals/tals as people, just different. There are several marvellous reconstructions in recent years, I'm sure you've seen them - the child, the woman, and the old man - that really humanised Neanderthal people.

The old man:

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Re: Evidence of Cannabalism in Neadertals
Reply #9
Not enough suborbital ridge.

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Re: Evidence of Cannabalism in Neadertals
Reply #10
Perhaps you meant supraorbital ridge?

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Re: Evidence of Cannabalism in Neadertals
Reply #11
Perhaps you meant supraorbital ridge?
Ok, Ok ....



With THAT correction, my point still stands.

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Re: Evidence of Cannabalism in Neadertals
Reply #12
Mike S, that's a female modern skull.

Plenty modern human males have pronounced supraorbital ridges. Maybe the feature wasn't as pronounced in all Neanderthals.


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Re: Evidence of Cannabalism in Neadertals
Reply #13
Mike S, that's a female modern skull.
I was conceding the point that my reference to "sub"orbital ridge was incorrect and Recusant corrected me.

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Plenty modern human males have pronounced supraorbital ridges. Maybe the feature wasn't as pronounced in all Neanderthals.


But that is a picture of a Rugby player, and we all know Rugby players are basically Neandertals anyway.

So point to me.  :D

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Re: Evidence of Cannabalism in Neadertals
Reply #14
Lol! I'd provide a pic of Mr. b's forehead but he wouldn't be pleased.

  • MikeS
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Re: Evidence of Cannabalism in Neadertals
Reply #15
Does he play Rugby?

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Re: Evidence of Cannabalism in Neadertals
Reply #16
Ha! No. He probably could have. He has resilient bones that have resisted breaking in at least two otherwise appalling vehicle accidents. His surgeons remarked on it.  He also has hereditary haemochromatosis, the treatment for which is bloodletting.  So good for rugby playing if he did. :D

  • MikeS
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Re: Evidence of Cannabalism in Neadertals
Reply #17
Sounds medieval.  He should volunteer at the local Renaissance Festival to show period medical practices.

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Re: Evidence of Cannabalism in Neadertals
Reply #18
Why? I'm sure he doesn't get periods.

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Re: Evidence of Cannabalism in Neadertals
Reply #19
Sounds medieval.  He should volunteer at the local Renaissance Festival to show period medical practices.
Lol. No leeches are used, but drawing blood is pretty standard and effective treatment. They take about a pint at a time to reduce excessive iron buildup, which can damage organs.

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Re: Evidence of Cannabalism in Neadertals
Reply #20
I knew a bloke who had that.

Apparently it's quite common in parts of Africa too, and due to them brewing beer in iron pots.

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Re: Evidence of Cannabalism in Neadertals
Reply #21
Why? I'm sure he doesn't get periods.


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Re: Evidence of Cannabalism in Neadertals
Reply #22
Sounds medieval.  He should volunteer at the local Renaissance Festival to show period medical practices.
Lol. No leeches are used, but drawing blood is pretty standard and effective treatment. They take about a pint at a time to reduce excessive iron buildup, which can damage organs.
I didn't mean leeches.  There were many tools used (wicked looking) and blood letting was one of the few "medical procedures" used.

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Re: Evidence of Cannabalism in Neadertals
Reply #23
Ah. I think he'd rather stick with the nurse with the nice sharp modern syringe at the local outpatient clinic though..

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Re: Evidence of Cannabalism in Neadertals
Reply #24
Why doesn't he just donate blood? Kill two birds with one stone.

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Re: Evidence of Cannabalism in Neadertals
Reply #25
Other medical factor in play; he can't donate.

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Re: Evidence of Cannabalism in Neadertals
Reply #26
Ah.

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Re: Evidence of Cannabalism in Neadertals
Reply #27
Why would we want to encourage the killing of birds?
Other than edible fowl, of course...