An unusual find in France shows that Neanderthals manipulated the bodies of their deceased.
A new study published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology includes analysis of the bone manipulations, which were found in the remains of both children and adults, but the scientists don't have definitive answers to explain the markings. Cannibalism is one possibility, but the researchers also believe the bone manipulations may just be signs of ritual ceremonies.
The scientists looked at remains from three Neanderthals, found between 1967 and 1980 in the French region of Poitou-Charentes. The fragments include part of a right radius, a left fibula, and a child's right femur. The bone manipulations suggest that Neanderthals, cut, beat and fractured the deceased's bones. Scientists have also discovered similar bone manipulations at other Neanderthal sites in Europe.
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While cannibalism may seem to be a likely explanation, the researchers note that the bones don't show carnivore's teeth marks, and the remains were found near a number of bones from animals, which may have been Neanderthal food. Whatever the reason for the manipulations, the researchers have concluded that the breaks occurred when the bones were still fresh, shortly after the Neanderthals' deaths.
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