Ancient bones reveal Neanderthals hunted extinct elephant big enough to feed 2,500 people!

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MAINZ, Germany — Neanderthals hunted and feasted on an extinct species of elephant so massive {that a} single animal may feed roughly 2,500 folks. Discuss your all-you-can-eat buffet! This examine, which analyzed 125,000-year-old bones present in present-day Germany, reveals that the searching of straight-tusked elephants (Palaeoloxodon antiquus) was a standard apply amongst Neanderthals.

The analysis additionally means that Neanderthals saved substantial portions of meat and fats, or probably gathered in bigger teams for communal consuming, in keeping with the scientists concerned. A group of German and Dutch researchers meticulously examined elephant bones, courting again round 125,000 years, that have been unearthed a long time in the past in Gröbern, Saxony-Anhalt, and Taubach, Thuringia, Germany.

These bones had reduce marks from stone instruments, signifying that Neanderthals not solely hunted but additionally extensively butchered these animals. This group, two years prior, found the primary proof of Neanderthals actively searching straight-tusked elephants at a former lignite mine in Saxony-Anhalt. These elephants, which have been the largest terrestrial mammals of the Pleistocene period, inhabited Europe and Western Asia between 100,000 and 800,000 years in the past.

The European straight-tusked elephant, with a shoulder top of as much as 4 meters (13 toes) and a physique mass of as much as 13 tons, was the biggest land animal of its time. It surpassed in measurement the up to date African and Asian elephants, and even the extinct woolly mammoth.

Pelvic bone of a Palaeoloxodon antiquus elephant
Pelvic bone of a Palaeoloxodon antiquus present in Gröbern (picture/©: Lutz Kindler, LEIZA)

This new examine was revealed within the journal PNAS and performed by members of Johannes Gutenberg College Mainz (JGU), the Leibniz Centre for Archaeology (LEIZA) in Mainz, and Leiden College within the Netherlands.

“The outcomes of the more moderen examination of the bones from Gröbern and Taubach now present that the hunting of these elephants by Neanderthals was not an remoted phenomenon however should have been a extra common exercise,” emphasizes Sabine Gaudzinski-Windheuser, Professor of Prehistoric and Protohistoric Archaeology at JGU, in a university release.

“Now we have estimated that the meat and fats equipped by the physique of an grownup Palaeoloxodon antiquus bull would have been enough to fulfill the every day calorie consumption of a minimum of 2,500 adult Neanderthals,” explains Gaudzinski-Windheuser. “It is a important quantity as a result of it furnishes us with new insights into the conduct of Neanderthals.”

Earlier analysis usually believed that Neanderthals fashioned teams comprising no more than 20 individuals. Nonetheless, the newly acquired information concerning the systematic exploitation of straight-tusked elephants means that Neanderthals may need congregated in bigger teams, a minimum of briefly. Alternatively, they may have developed strategies to protect and retailer substantial quantities of meals, or probably each.

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South West Information Service author Stephen Beech contributed to this report.

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