125,000 years ago, Neanderthals were hunting straight-tusked elephants
A new analysis these elephant remains found in ancient lake deposits in Germany shows that hunting these enormous animals was part of the Neanderthals’ culture for thousands of years.
Neanderthals were skilled hunters, and they were not afraid to take on large prey. In fact, new evidence1 suggests that Neanderthals may have hunted straight-tusked elephants, one of the largest land mammals of the Pleistocene epoch.
The evidence comes from a study of bones found at a site in Germany. The bones show that the elephants were killed by humans, and that they were butchered in a way that suggests that the Neanderthals were experienced hunters.
The study's authors believe that the Neanderthals may have hunted straight-tusked elephants for their meat and ivory. They also believe that the hunting may have been a communal activity, with groups of Neanderthals working together to bring down the elephants.
This finding is significant because it shows that Neanderthals were capable of hunting large and dangerous animals. It also suggests that they were able to cooperate in complex ways, which is something that was previously thought to be unique to modern humans.
Gaudzinski-Windheuser, S., Kindler, L., MacDonald, K., & Roebroeks, W. (2023). Hunting and processing of straight-tusked elephants 125.000 years ago: Implications for Neanderthal behavior. Science Advances, 9(5), eadd8186. https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.add8186