Neanderthals were intelligent and fearless Hunters, not dimwits

May 15th, 2009 - 2:13 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, May 15 (ANI): A new analysis has indicated that Neanderthals, which are generally considered as the ’stupid’ cousins of modern humans, were sophisticated, intelligent, and fearless hunters, capable of capturing the most impressive animals.

Although it is now clear that Neanderthals were hunters and not scavengers, their exact hunting methods are still something of a mystery.

Dutch researcher Gerrit Dusseldorp investigated just how sophisticated the Neanderthals’ hunting methods really were.

He analyzed their daily forays for food to gain insights into their complex behavior.

His analysis of two archaeological sites revealed that Neanderthals in warm forested areas preferred to hunt solitary game but that in colder, less forested areas they preferred to hunt the more difficult to capture herding animals.

The Neanderthals were not easily intimated by their game. Rhinoceroses, bisons and even predators such as the brown bear were all on their menu.

Dusseldorp established that just as for modern humans, the environment and the availability of food determined the choice of prey and the hunting method adopted.

If the circumstances allowed it, Neanderthals lived in large groups and even the most attractive and difficult to catch prey were within their reach.

Although herding animals are difficult to surprise and isolate, many such game lived on the open steppes.

This large supply attracted large groups of Neanderthals.

That the Neanderthals were capable of hunting down such elusive game demonstrates that they had good coordination skills and could communicate well with each other.

Each prey has a specific cost-benefit scenario.

For example, game that are more difficult to catch yield more calories and have a more usable, thick fleece.

Dusseldorp used these data to examine the Neanderthal’s preferences. He also analyzed the prey of hyenas in the same manner.

Hyenas were important competitors of Neanderthals as they had a similar dietary pattern.

Dusseldorp demonstrated that Neanderthals, thanks to their intelligence, even surpassed hyenas at capturing the strongest game.

All things being considered, the Neanderthals were skilled and highly intelligent hunters. So, the idea that Neanderthals were brute musclemen can be dismissed. (ANI)

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