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Were Neanderthals Devoured By Humans?

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the subsumed-or-consumed dept.

Earth 502

Hugh Pickens writes "The Guardian reports that a Neanderthal jawbone covered in cut marks similar to those left behind when flesh is stripped from deer provides crucial evidence that humans attacked Neanderthals, and sometimes killed them, bringing back their bodies to caves to eat or to use their skulls or teeth as trophies. 'For years, people have tried to hide away from the evidence of cannibalism, but I think we have to accept it took place,' says Fernando Rozzi, of Paris's Centre National de la Récherche Scientifique. According to Rozzi, a discovery at Les Rois in south-west France provides compelling support for that argument. Previous excavations revealed bones that were thought to be exclusively human. But Rozzi's team re-examined them and found one they concluded was Neanderthal." (Continued, below.)"Importantly, it was covered in cut marks similar to those left behind when flesh is stripped using stone tools. Not every team member agrees. 'One set of cut marks does not make a complete case for cannibalism,' says Francesco d'Errico, of the Institute of Prehistory in Bordeaux. It was also possible that the jawbone had been found by humans and its teeth used to make a necklace, he said. 'This is a very important investigation,' said Professor Chris Stringer, of the Natural History Museum, London. 'This does not prove we systematically eradicated the Neanderthals or that we regularly ate their flesh. But it does add to the evidence that competition from modern humans probably contributed to Neanderthal extinction.'"

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502 comments

how is it cannibalism? (5, Interesting)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#27990753)

Cannibalism: The act or practice of eating human flesh by mankind

H. neanderthalensis != H. sapiens

Re:how is it cannibalism? (4, Funny)

fyoder (857358) | more than 4 years ago | (#27990823)

H. neanderthalensis != H. sapiens

Nope, but Homo sapiens neanderthalensis is darn close. If you saw one shaved and wearing a suit your first thought wouldn't be "Mmmm, lunch!". Unless you're a cannibal, that is.

Oblig. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27990887)

http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&q=geiko%20caveman&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wi

Geiko Caveman.

Re:how is it cannibalism? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27990945)

If I saw a cow shaved and wearing a suit my first thought wouldn't be "Mmmm, lunch!" either.

Re:how is it cannibalism? (1)

atheistmonk (1268392) | more than 4 years ago | (#27991063)

I see shaved pigs wearing suits all the time in parliament. I don't think "lunch" but I hope the dogs do.

Re:how is it cannibalism? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27991029)

If you saw one shaved and wearing a suit your first thought wouldn't be "Mmmm, lunch!".

My first thought would be to yell "GEICO! So Easy A Caveman Could Do It." Just to piss him off.

Re:how is it cannibalism? (2, Interesting)

Comatose51 (687974) | more than 4 years ago | (#27991123)

Do humans eat chimps or gorillas? Or is the similarity too much for us to stomach (pun partially intended)?

Re:how is it cannibalism? (1)

Korin43 (881732) | more than 4 years ago | (#27991141)

Some people do. We don't here, but that probably has more to do with the lack of chimps and gorillas in the US and Europe than anything else.

Re:how is it cannibalism? (5, Funny)

nizo (81281) | more than 4 years ago | (#27991173)

..has more to do with the lack of chimps and gorillas in the US and Europe..

Yeah we ate them all already.

Re:how is it cannibalism? (1)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 4 years ago | (#27991137)

Someone else already made the point using a cow, so I'll go the vegetable route.

If I saw a potato shaved and wearing a suit, my first thought wouldn't be "Mmmm, lunch!".
If I saw a Chimpansee shaved and wearing a suit, my first thought wouldn't be "Mmmm, lunch!".

The fact of the matter is that I do eat potatos. There are many people on the planet who eat Chimpanzees, that doesn't make us cannibals.

LK

Re:how is it cannibalism? (1)

smchris (464899) | more than 4 years ago | (#27991287)

Yup. Close only counts in horse shoes. Gives a new definition to "long pig" although "bush meat" would probably be a more accurate term for primate consumption.

Re:how is it cannibalism? (1)

stms (1132653) | more than 4 years ago | (#27991295)

Well they look a lot like humans I doubt that I'd think "Mmmm, lunch!" regardless of hair style and attire. Mind you I've never seen one in person they may look a lot tastier than they're described as.

Re:how is it cannibalism? (1)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | more than 4 years ago | (#27991303)

No, I would think "Insurance Company Icon"... but then I would think of how they have been portrayed in insurance commercials as quick to take offense, fussy, and sensitive... and I would think "Sexually ambiguous Insurance Company Icon". In any case I would not consider cooking them unless we had already cooked all the overweight people, and that group would include me so I guess in the end I won't have any problem with it at all.

yeah, its called bushmeat (2, Informative)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#27990829)

go to any number of african towns and you'll find guys coming back from the jungle with monkey parts to eat. its called bushmeat

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bushmeat#Effect_on_Great_Apes [wikipedia.org]

Re:yeah, its called bushmeat (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27991153)

Dude, what is UP with your movie already? It seems like you've been pushing this movie you're supposedly making (over at K5 and now, I guess, here too) for at least three years now. Are you seriously ever going to come out with a movie, or are you just jerking off over there?

Not that I really want to watch it, but I'm getting tired of seeing you brag about the fact that you're a hip indie filmmaker in your sig. What a douchebag.

Re:how is it cannibalism? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27990835)

They were both human.

Would you eat your cousin? (3, Funny)

irtza (893217) | more than 4 years ago | (#27990883)

Well, let's think about your question. sapiens and neanderthals are like cousins, so it would be like eating a cousin... would you eat your cousin? Would you call that cannibalism? You know, since we are using spacious reasoning for now, I would also like to propose that neanderthals were major geeks. As I imagine it, this is how it went down. Joe Sapien and Richard M.S. Neanderthal were hanging out one day like they always did. rich was helping joe with a abacus virus he caught while placing the beeds in suggestive positions. The cave collapses and now Rich is trapped with Joe and some of his frat brothers. They can't get out. They get hungry. Heck - Rich isn't even the same species... who do you kill - THE GEEK. Its the only explanation that makes sense. The neanderthal was one major geek. Thank you. Thank you. I do take requests.

Re:Would you eat your cousin? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27990907)

My cousins are douches, so yes I'd eat them. Especially the fat one.

Re:Would you eat your cousin? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27990999)

Please let this thread end here.

Re:Would you eat your cousin? (5, Interesting)

NonUniqueNickname (1459477) | more than 4 years ago | (#27991055)

There's no real distinction between eating your cousin, eating your sister, or eating an unrelated person. Any time you eat a human it's cannibalism. Your analogy just fails. There is, however, a real distinction between sleeping with your cousin, sleeping with your sister, or sleeping with an unrelated person. Sleeping with your sister is bad. Sleeping with someone unrelated is okay (some would even say good). Sleeping with your cousin... Well... Darwin married his cousin (3rd cousin).

Re:Would you eat your cousin? (1)

schon (31600) | more than 4 years ago | (#27991079)

spacious reasoning

Is that where you have enough room to open your mind? :)

Technicalities. (5, Interesting)

Celeste R (1002377) | more than 4 years ago | (#27990973)

Cannibalism, although culturally repugnant to us, is fact of carnivorous history. Dogs eat their own, mice eat their own, fish eat their own, and sharks eat their own; is it so surprising that our ancestors ate their neighbors when food was scarce?

Furthermore, consider the existence (or eradication as proof thereof) of cannibalistic societies: they didn't just randomly choose to eat what they do/did, they were taught to do so by someone.

Re:Technicalities. (3, Interesting)

nizo (81281) | more than 4 years ago | (#27991213)

If humans were competing with nearby Neanderthals (chances are they were; we can't even keep from killing each other, and resources were almost certainly limited), them being unlike us (genetically unable to procreate with us, according to recent studies) would almost certainly make them animals from the viewpoint of our ancestors. Their looks wouldn't help much either.

Also the fact that there were mass extinctions of all kinds of animals right after humans arrived in nearly every locale is no coincidence. We are efficient killers.

Re:Technicalities. (1)

Hungus (585181) | more than 4 years ago | (#27991293)

Which recent studies show they they are genetically different enough so that we could not mate with them? I ask not to be sarcastic, but most things i read on the subject lately seems to point the other direction that in fact the two lines merged to form modern man.

Re:how is it cannibalism? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27991025)

I agree it isn't even cannibalism. I wonder what they tasted like? Probably delicious...

Re:how is it cannibalism? (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#27991069)

Would it be bestiality if you had sex with a neanderthal?

Re:how is it cannibalism? (2, Funny)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 4 years ago | (#27991167)

Would it be bestiality if you had sex with a neanderthal?

If YOU did, sure.

But don't worry, neanderthals weren't known to be squeamish.

Cannibalism still occurs in "modern" times. (5, Interesting)

reporter (666905) | more than 4 years ago | (#27991203)

When people hear the word, "cannibalism", they tend to become squeamish. They tend to associate the act with a distant time and a distant place.

Well, "cannibalism" still occurs in "modern" times. The most infamous incidents of cannibalism occurred in China from 1966 until 1976. According to a report [nytimes.com] by the "New York Times" in 1993, "At some high schools, students killed their principals in the school courtyard and then cooked and ate the bodies to celebrate a triumph over 'counterrevolutionaries,' the documents report. Government-run cafeterias are said to have displayed bodies dangling on meat hooks and to have served human flesh to employees.

'There are many varieties of cannibalism,' declares one report, 'and among them are these: killing someone and making a late dinner of it, slicing off the meat and having a big party, dividing up the flesh so each person takes a large chunk home to boil, roasting the liver and eating it for its medicinal properties, and so on.'

The documents suggest that at least 137 people, and probably hundreds more, were eaten in Guangxi Province in southern China in the late 1960's. In most cases, many people ate the flesh of one corpse, so the number of cannibals may have numbered in the thousands."

According to a report [time.com] by "Time Magazine" in 2001, "The atrocities took many forms, according to documents. One report refers to 'eating people as an after-dinner snack . . .barbecuing people's livers . . .banqueting on human meat.' The same document matter-of-factly relates specific tales of depravity. 'On May 14, 1968,' it says, 'a group of 11, led by the Wei brothers, captured a man named Chen Guorong and killed him with a big knife before cutting out his liver. They shared the human meat with 20 participants.' The same month Wu Shufang, a teacher at the Wuxuan Middle School, was beaten to death; her liver was roasted and eaten. During 1968, 91 members of the Communist Party in Guangxi were expelled on charges that they were involved in cannibalism, but none was severely punished."

To this day, some of the cannibals still hold political power in the Chinese government.

Were Neanderthals Devoured By Humans? (4, Interesting)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 4 years ago | (#27990759)

Or were neanderthals so cornered by humans that they resorted to cannibalism?

Misleading title...

RS

Re: Were Neanderthals Devoured By Humans? (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#27990805)

Or were neanderthals so cornered by humans that they resorted to cannibalism?

If only they had developed gunpowder and resistance to smallpox... err wait, n/m thinking of something else ;)

Re: Were Neanderthals Devoured By Humans? (1)

OECD (639690) | more than 4 years ago | (#27990837)

Or were neanderthals so cornered by humans that they resorted to cannibalism?

Misleading title...

Not really. There's several explanations for why that jawbone ended up the way it did, but it wouldn't likely be N-on-N cannibalism, since it ended up in a Cro-Mag settlement.

Judging from the absence of other bones, it could as easily have been scavenging, or opportunistic trophy collecting.

OTOH, it could come back to bite us [escapepod.org].

Not cannabilisim (3, Informative)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 4 years ago | (#27990761)

Neanderthals are not the same species, eating them is on par with eating a great ape.

Re:Not cannabilisim (0, Redundant)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 4 years ago | (#27990815)

Well, this gets into a semantic argument. Homo neandrathalis and Homo Sapiens - is that close enough to call it "cannibalism" or is it just hunting behavior. Still interesting, but as the article states there isn't enough data to generalize so whatever term one uses it's largely speculative. Still and all, H. sapiens has a pretty good track record for stomping out things near and far on the evolutionary ladder. As RAH once put it "War isn't who's right, it's who's left."

Eating apes is pretty close to cannibalisim (4, Insightful)

billstewart (78916) | more than 4 years ago | (#27990925)

Where do you draw the line? Neanderthals were pretty close to modern humans, and as far as we can tell, they were mostly "other tribes we're competing/fighting with", which were the typical target of cannibalism in most human societies that practiced it regularly (as opposed to starvation situations like the Donner Party or that airplane crash.) They may look a little funny, but they're basically the neighbors, not just wildlife.

There are other reasons for it - some of the South Pacific islanders in Vanuatu have explained their motivation for cannibalism as "people are tasty", and that's pretty much why some Africans eat our near cousins like chimps and bonobos, which are about 98% like us. And there are occasional societies that practice it for magical reasons (it's currently a bad time to be albino in some parts of Africa, although the practitioners-of-traditional-medicine don't tend to actually eat the victims.) And we're certainly close enough cousins that eating undercooked apes and even monkeys is a really bad idea - seems to be where AIDS and a few other diseases have gotten to human populations from.

That's not to say that chimps are peace-loving hippies themselves - one of the more vicious things I've seen on TV nature channels was a gang of half a dozen chimps hunting and killing a monkey.

Re:Eating apes is pretty close to cannibalisim (4, Insightful)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 4 years ago | (#27991129)

Where do you draw the line?

At the "is it another species" line.

No = cannibalism.
Yes = not cannibalism, though it may still be weird or gross.

I think people screwed monkeys and not ate them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27991279)

And we're certainly close enough cousins that eating undercooked apes and even monkeys is a really bad idea - seems to be where AIDS and a few other diseases have gotten to human populations from.
= = = = = = = = = = = =

Yeah, Id be willing to bet that a couple of horny guys screwed some monkeys (I mean, they are 98% like we are) is more likely than AIDS contaminated meat.
Im not even sure if contagion can be carried through this way but I know from watching filthy german films that people will f*** anything.

I also worked in a bar bck in college.
Ive seen many a 3h30am closing time when the pickings are slim and 98% human seems like a pretty good option compared to some of the flotsam youd find at that time.

Re:Not cannabilisim (1)

hwyhobo (1420503) | more than 4 years ago | (#27991013)

Not "cannabilisim"? Are you confusing cannibalism with smoking a joint? Hope you don't get munchies too often...

Re:Not cannabilisim (3, Informative)

fermion (181285) | more than 4 years ago | (#27991059)

h.neanderthals are currently considered in the same family as h. sapien sapien , homo, but are not currently considered a subspecies. Therefore the comparison with eating primates, as primates are related to us by family,hominidae, not genus, is not so great.

The taboo against cannibalism, like the taboo against eating, say, pigs comes from the risk of cross infection. Any virus that infects a piece of meat of a prey can also infect a predator of the same species. To minimize this risk predators tend to eat outside of the species. OTOH, as we have seen, there can be across family, order, or even class, but the risk of infection does seem to decrease we move up the taxonomic classification. So we may have a specific taboo against eating within the family or genus, but that taboo is not cannibalism.

Re:Not cannabilisim (1)

nizo (81281) | more than 4 years ago | (#27991231)

Though these guys not only made tools and most likely had spoken language, they also made pretty spiffy cave paintings.

But if you can't breed with it and it tastes like bacon, adios Neanderthals....

Re:Not cannabilisim (1)

Neon Aardvark (967388) | more than 4 years ago | (#27991265)

Neanderthals are not the same species, eating them is on par with eating a great ape.

Er, no it's not - it's like eating human-looking conscious self-aware individuals who used tools and had language and art.

This was all Oprah's fault (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27990763)

Her cave show offered coupons for free grilled neanderthal, and well, humans went crazy for it.

And it continues today! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27990787)

I do the same thing today with the more primitive of my species, the liberal. I either eat them or keep their puny skulls as trophies and testaments to my alternate evolution and vastly superior brain function.

Heh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27990789)

Come on down to Jones' Good Ass Neanderthal BBQ & Foot Massage!

Only in France! (4, Funny)

pete-classic (75983) | more than 4 years ago | (#27990793)

Only in France would a Scientist subvert his own work due to culinary objections!

-Peter

Re:Only in France! (1)

arekusu_ou (1344373) | more than 4 years ago | (#27990863)

The critics were probably offended that each Neanderthal dish had too much on the plate, not in keeping with traditional French cuisine style.

"The Inheritors" (3, Informative)

Cow Jones (615566) | more than 4 years ago | (#27990841)

William Golding wrote a fictional account of the Neanderthals' extinction at the hands of Homo sapiens:
The Inheritors [wikipedia.org].

Scary, but beautifully written.

CJ

Re:"The Inheritors" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27990905)

I remember reading this story on a plane, then thinking about that soccer team who crashed in the Andes, finally looking over at the person in the next seat and saying "yeah, I could do that..." *shudders*

Run, neanderthal, run! (4, Funny)

fyoder (857358) | more than 4 years ago | (#27990871)

That robust frame of theirs was probably good for endurance, but those tasty suckers sure couldn't run fast!

Poor neanderthals. Probably thought they were the top of the food chain too, until H.s.s. came along.

Re:Run, neanderthal, run! (3, Interesting)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#27990941)

That robust frame of theirs was probably good for endurance, but those tasty suckers sure couldn't run fast!

I dunno, I saw an interesting documentary on them that suggested they probably had shit for endurance compared to us. They attributed that conclusion to their different gait and the fact that it would require more energy to move that heavy frame.

Humans aren't very fast by the standards of the animal kingdom but we do have a fair amount of endurance compared to a lot of other animals. With enough water a reasonably fit human can march all day long. Many other animals can't do that because they overheat and tire out much quicker than we do. Dogs/wolves are adapt at doing it -- maybe that explains why they adapted so easily to living with humans?

Re:Run, neanderthal, run! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27991215)

Indeed. One popular method of hunting among those for whom guns, bows, or even spears are not hardcore enough is to simply follow the animal until it falls down, and then cut its jugular, if it isn't simply stone dead already from sheer exhaustion. Of course, carrying the creature back to your truck/village after walking for three days straight is the *real* test of endurance. It's not quite as glamorous as killing a man-eater cat by ripping its tongue out with your bare hands, though*.

There are several reasons we're top of the food chain--it isn't just our big, juicy brains.

*This actually happened. And the guy was like 70 years old when he did it, too.

Re:Run, neanderthal, run! (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27991221)

Humans aren't very fast by the standards of the animal kingdom but we do have a fair amount of endurance compared to a lot of other animals. With enough water a reasonably fit human can march all day long.

Very true, see: Persistence hunting [wikipedia.org].

Leading to this [youtube.com].
Kalahari desert hunters chase (on foot!) a Kudu to exhaustion.

Re:Run, neanderthal, run! (1)

metlin (258108) | more than 4 years ago | (#27991271)

With enough water a reasonably fit human can march all day long.

I walked around town today. I couldn't find one.

Evidence to the contrary (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27990879)

My office is evidence that neanderthals appear to have got the upper hand in some cases. Present company included.

not necessarily cannibalism (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27990889)

This new finding could've been an instance where enhanced interrogation techniques were being used.

Reparations (4, Funny)

straponego (521991) | more than 4 years ago | (#27990917)

Clearly, the only decent thing to do is to resurrect the Neanderthal species as soon as we can reconstruct their DNA, then pass the Earth into their custody, along with a bashful apology etched as the introductory paragraph of our Rosetta stones.

Re:Reparations (4, Funny)

FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) | more than 4 years ago | (#27991101)

I was with you on the first part... Clearly, the only decent thing to do is to resurrect the Neanderthal species as soon as we can reconstruct their DNA, then find out what they taste like.

hansel and gretel: (4, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#27990929)

don't stray from mom and dad and go in the woods or the crazy lady will eat you

its a kids story, with a useful function, and also probably an oral historical memory of when this was real

"long pig" is the name in the south pacific for human meat. because, obviously, we taste like pig

which, as a lover of bacon, makes me a little nervous: i'd probably like the taste

i would wager that every single eyeball reading these words is the offspring, some great-great-great-ancestor, ate human flesh at some point

you can feel morally repulsed by that diea, but the human stomach outweighs your moral compass when push comes to shove, and famine was not an uncommon thing in human history

Re:hansel and gretel: (1)

perryizgr8 (1370173) | more than 4 years ago | (#27991067)

it is difficult to imagine how would i behave in a stranded and food scarcity scenario. i refuse to believe that i could eat anything, even another human. but who knows what primal instincts may take over when you are dying of hunger?

All this has happened before.......... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27990931)

After (stupidly)sending all of their high tech and rations into the sun, the Galactica crew had to dine on something.

On a related topic... (3, Funny)

vorenus (1319377) | more than 4 years ago | (#27990937)

An ancient fossilized variety of soylent was found perfectly preserved!
Scientists reached the conclusion that:

SOYLENT GREEN WAS NEANDERTHAL!

Someone please tag (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27991027)

Could someone please tag this with 'nomnomnom'?

there is no good definition of "species" (5, Interesting)

panthroman (1415081) | more than 4 years ago | (#27991035)

Lots of comments say "not cannibalism!" And they have a point. But...

The root of this semantic impasse is that there is no good definition of species, and I don't think there ever will be.

The one usually taught in undergrad bio -- ability to make viable offspring -- has problems. To name a few:
* Two same-gendered humans can't make a viable offspring.
* Prepubescent children, post-menopausal women, and many other humans are sterile.
* Sometimes two "species" could create viable offspring, but they don't. (E.g., different mating dances preclude them mating, but in a lab, sperm A and egg B make a viable offspring.)
* Sometimes A can mate with B, and B with C, but A cannot mate with C directly. (A Chihuahua cannot mate with a Great Dane. It's physically impossible.)
* The nontransitivity above (A, B, and C) is generally true of ALL creatures if you're allowed to go back in time. Go back far enough, and our ancestors could mate with chimp ancestors. A little farther and we share ancestors!
* What about the poor asexual creatures? How do they have "species"?

So whether or not this is 'cannibalism' relies on whether the fossil H. sapiens are conspecific with the fossil H. neanderwhatever. And that's a semantic question with no answer.

But cannibalism or not, our ancestors apparently ate them some neanderthals!

Man Eat Man World... (3, Funny)

creimer (824291) | more than 4 years ago | (#27991039)

The truth is out... the existence of early Wall Street traders now confirmed.

why so surprised? (3, Insightful)

kachakaach (1336273) | more than 4 years ago | (#27991043)

christians practice ritualistic cannibalism every sunday, body of christ, blood of christ, etc.

It's true (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27991057)

http://www.warriors.egympie.com.au/cannibalism.html [egympie.com.au]

West of Cooktown, Chinese were roasted in clay white-ant ovens, smelling and looking
exactly like roast pork, even the yellow skin crinkled like that of pork they have
declined to eat white men who were tobacco eaters ... the blacks suspected the flesh of
being poisoned, knowing the odor was not that of clean, healthy human flesh." In
Castletown, 1895, another report stated, "Once I asked Joci what he liked best to
eat. He replied Talgoro (human flesh)

Cain ate Abel (0, Redundant)

Black Sabbath (118110) | more than 4 years ago | (#27991083)

As I was reading this I wondered if this is perhaps the origin of the "Cain and Abel" myth?

Re: Cain ate Abel? No, Cain did not eat Abel (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 4 years ago | (#27991275)

Re-read the few verses of Genesis about Cain and Abel. Cain did not eat his brother.

Re:Cain ate Abel (1)

panthroman (1415081) | more than 4 years ago | (#27991317)

As I was reading this I wondered if this is perhaps the origin of the "Cain and Abel" myth?

Not a bad idea, but I'm always skeptical of the "myths must have some ancient basis in reality" theme.

Neanderthals went extinct ~30,000 years ago. That's ~1500 generations between Neanderthals going extinct and the writing of the bible. Maybe the story was passed on from grandparent to grandkid 800 times, but it seems more likely that Cain and Abel was just made up.

Maybe the unicorn really is grounded in the narwhal [wikipedia.org], or the cyclops in elephant skulls [embraceafricasafaris.com], or sea serpents in oarfish [wikipedia.org]. But I bet the vast majority of myths are exactly that: myths. And I wonder if 'justifying' myths with science is misguided.

now that i think about it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27991127)

Tastes like chicken!!!

Denial - Not Just a River - Also Druids Cannibals (4, Insightful)

gadlaw (562280) | more than 4 years ago | (#27991147)

All these replies of people saying 'but but No! Our ancestors weren't cannibals!' reminds me of a Science/Nat Geo/Discovery Channel show I saw recently about those Cannibal Druids and all the evidence of that happening. Lots and lots of dolts went on camera to mouth a ton of excuses and 'buts' rather than admit that the Druids as Mother Earth loving, New Age darlings were bloodthirsty, life hating, human sacrificing cannibals. I particularly liked when one of the 'professors' said that their cannibalism and human sacrifice was perfectly understandable when you consider that the Roman Army was marching on them and you know how much pressure people are under when those scary Romans are marching. Human sacrifice, cannibalism, savagery, pillaging, raping, - that's who we are folks. It's our heritage, just acknowledge our darker past (and present) and let's try to do better.

Double Take (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27991189)

was i the only one who read that as "were netherlanders devoured by humans"? i gotta start watching the news more.

Yum! Neanderthal meat! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27991197)

What? Why is everyone looking at me like that?

Wait until someone clones [archaeology.org] it. It'll be the next craze in restaurants!

Imagine the menu...

Neanderthal Ribs
Slow roasted to perfection, covered in thick Neanderthal broth, fries, and a side.

Press sensationalism or bad anthropology? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27991241)

I'm sick of this kind of story, and I'm not sure if the problem is in the press, or with the anthropologists, but its a big leap from the evidence to concluding that its cannibalism. The evidence is interesting and consists of cutmarks on a neanderthal jawbone, cutmarks consistent with defleshing of the jawbone using stone tools. Now why would someone want to do that? To eat lips and cheeks? Really? Sure its possible, but there are other explanations that are just as likely. What would show cannibalism conclusively would be neanderthal dna in homo sapiens sapiens coprolites. I haven't heard of anyone doing any such testing, though someone recently found australopithecine hair in hyena dung from Sterkfontein cave in South Africa, indicating they were eating early hominids at least occassionally.

Humans have a long history of curating bones (especially skulls and jawbones) from others. Some of these are manually defleshed, while others are left to deflesh by natural means. These can be bones of ancestors, relatives, or people killed in warfare. So, cut marks, for me, are much more likely to indicate defleshing for curation.

The real question is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27991255)

were they eaten with fava beans and a nice Chianti?

No Proof (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27991257)

First, the fact that early humans were cannibalistic is no surprise, no further proof is needed other than even in modern day humans (secluded tribes) the practice cannibalism has been handed down through hundreds of generations. Secondly finding a piece of a skull with tool marks on it is not crucial evidence of cannibalism, in fact there is no evidence of what really happened to the fragment of bone or when the tool marks were made.

I question their interpretation (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 4 years ago | (#27991311)

"Previous excavations revealed bones that were thought to be exclusively human. But Rozzi's team re-examined them and found one they concluded was Neanderthal."

So, most of these flesh-stripped bones were human, and one was Neanderthal? Maybe it was the Neanderthals eating humans? Are were _sure_ they weren't tool-using?
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