Members of this human subspecies have developed tools out of their own kind's bones, researchers say.
This study confirms that Belgian Neanderthals have been eating each other based on the marks on bones found on the site. Those marks were from intentional butchering. Researchers also claim that these Neanderthals made tools out of human bones.
Neanderthals were a human subspecies that lived in Europe and western Asia for hundreds of thousands of years before becoming extinct between 30,000 and 40,000 years ago.
Their disappearance followed the arrival of Homo sapiens
, ancestors of people living today, from Africa. Evidence shows that the two kinds of humans interbred, and up to 4% of the DNA of modern Europeans and Asians is believed to have been inherited from Neanderthals.
The bones uncovered from the Goyet caves near Namur in Belgium had cut marks pits and notches what was a clear sign of butchery said researchers writing in the journal Scientific Reports.
It appears to have been a thorough process. There is evidence of skinning, cutting up, and extraction of bone marrow. Lead scientist Prof Hervé Bocherens, from the University of Tübingen in Germany, said: “These indications allow us to assume that the Neanderthals practised cannibalism. The many remains of horses and reindeer found in Goyet were processed the same way.”
Previous hints of Neandertal cannibalism have been found in Spain and France but this finding is concrete evidence that Neanderthal cannibalism was a real thing.