Archive for October 20th, 2008

Neanderthals ate sea mammals

Monday, October 20th, 2008

Archaeologists have found evidence that Neanderthals living in caves on the Rock of Gibraltar ate seals and dolphins.

This is a major find because up until now there has only been evidence of our more direct Cro-Magnon ancestors eating seafood, a misconception that has helped bolster the presumption of our cognitive superiority.

The researchers can’t be sure how the ancient Neanderthals hunted their seafood, but suggest that perhaps Neanderthals used clubs to kill seals that came close to the beach to have their pups. This skill might have involved knowledge of the seasons, and prediction of seal birthing time. And maybe they snatched dolphins that swam too close to shore, or got stranded on the beach.

The fact that the sea mammal remains found in the caves date from several different time periods spread over about 30,000 years demonstrates that seafood eating wasn’t just a fluke event, but a practiced and repeated behavior, Finlayson said. And there’s no reason to think it wasn’t happening all along the coasts of Portugal and Spain where Neanderthals were living at the time.

Not having any idea that scientists claimed Neanderthals were strictly land-meat eaters, I find it an odd assumption. Even if it had been true, why would it indicate cognitive inferiority?

It’s not like the other humans used dragnets or dynamite or something to get their seafood. They probably hunted and scavenged just like the Neanderthals did. :confused:

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