Did Neanderthals Eat Lions?

New Evidence Changes Our Picture of Early Hominids

by Patricia Cazares, age 12

In the last issue of the Simpson Street Free Press, Helen Zhang wrote an article about new research suggesting Neanderthals were capable of symbolic thinking. Now, Spanish researchers have discovered that Neanderthals might also have been very aggressive hunters.

At the Gran Dolina cave site in Sierra de Atapuerca, an archaeological team found hundreds of animal bones, most of them from red deer and horses. They also found some bones of carnivores in rock layers dating from 250,000 to 350,000 years ago. One set of lion bones had many cutmarks, indicating that the Neanderthals had skinned the lions.

According to the study, published in the Journal of Archaeological Science, early humans rarely hunted lions. Even so, the study explained, “the hunting of this predator suggests that the hominids of the Middle Pleistocene are successful hunters able to face the large predators.”

[Sources: USA Today; National Geographic; Atlas of the Ancient World]