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Europe’s Neanderthals buried their dead


New research conducted in caves in southern France has revealed that European Neanderthals buried their dead.

The researchers found more Neanderthal remains — two children and one adult — as well as some bison and reindeer bones. They did not find tool marks or other conclusive evidence of intentional digging of the earth at the site, but geological analysis of the 15-inch-deep (39 centimeters) pit where the remains were found suggested it was not a natural feature of the cave floor.

Moreover, when the scientists examined the Neanderthal remains found at the site in 1908, they discovered that unlike the bison and reindeer bones, the Neanderthal fossils had few cracks, no smoothing related to natural erosion from the environment and no signs of disturbance by animals. These traits suggest the Neanderthal was buried rapidly, and perhaps intentionally, to protect the bones.

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Story: Charles Q. Choi, LiveScience | Photo: C. Beauval, Archéosphère company

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