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Neandertal Post-Mortem Modification

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Cut marks are observed on the femur of the Neanderthal child. Credit: M.D. Garralda et al

Cut marks are observed on the femur of the Neanderthal child. Credit: M.D. Garralda et al

A study published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology has for the first time analysed the fragments of three individuals found between ’67 and ’80 at the French site, Marillac, dating back 57,600 years ago. These are an incomplete diaphysis of a right radius, another of a left fibula and the majority of a right femur. The latter belonged to a child.

Neandertals from this region of Poitou-Charentes cut, beat and fractured the bones of their recently deceased companions, as revealed by the fossil remains of two adults and a child found at the Marillac site. These manipulations have been observed at other Neandertal sites, but scientists still do not know whether they did this for food or ceremony. What do you think?

More information: María Dolores Garralda et al. “Neanderthal infant and adult infracranial remains from Marillac (Charente, France)” American Journal of Physical Anthropology 155:99-113.

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