Bradshaw Foundation Latest News
Bradshaw Foundation Latest News
Bradshaw Foundation Latest News
Bradshaw Foundation - Latest News
Neanderthal hunting strategies
Wednesday 30 March 2016

An article by Richard Gray for mailonline - Were Neanderthals master tacticians? Early human relatives used meticulously planned strategies to hunt Ice Age beasts - reports on the forensic analysis of hunting sites revealing Neanderthal hunting tactics. By using the landscape to funnel prey towards bottlenecks, they were then able to ambush and kill. The sites reveal that the Neanderthal hunters then butchered selectively.

Image: Natural History Museum, London

No longer thought of as cumbersome hunters, new forensic analysis of the Neanderthal hunting grounds has revealed them as efficient tacticians and selective butchers. This was thought to be traits of only our own species, Homo sapiens.

Neanderthal hunting strategies

Image: Zdenek Burian.

Zdenek Burian(1905 - 1981) was a Czech painter and book illustrator whose work played a central role in the development of palaeontological reconstruction. He is regarded as one of the most influential palaeoartists of the modern era.

Built for distance running, it is thought bands of Homo sapiens isolated and chased down individual prey until they tired enough to be killed. Neanderthals were comparatively more heavily built and thought to have been far slower. However, it appears that Neanderthal herded their prey, which were often large herbivores like reindeer, horses, rhinos and bison, into areas where they could easily ambush them.

Professor Mark White, a Palaeolithic archaeologist at Durham University states that Neanderthals appeared to repeatedly use the same 'kill sites'. The remains of animals found at these sites suggests the hunters killed herd animals almost indiscriminately and then selectively butchered the fattest animals.

Neanderthals were very adept at spotting places within their home range where animals could be disadvantaged - cul-de-sacs, bottlenecks, charts depressions, precipices, blind corners. They used the animals flight behaviour to manipulate them into these places, where they killed as many animals as they could get or wanted. Because most prey species were larger and faster (and perhaps more dangerous) than Neanderthals, ambushing prey was a way of turning things to their advantage with the element of surprise and forced panic eliminating the speed and size advantage the animals naturally had.

 
Article continues below
 

Professor White and his colleagues outline their findings in the journal Quaternary Science Reviews:
'Shoot first, ask questions later: Interpretative narratives of Neanderthal hunting'
Volume 140, 15 May 2016, Pages 1-20

For the study, the scientists examined several sites where large collections of ice age animal bones have been discovered and are thought to have been victims of Neanderthal hunts. By examining the behaviour of modern animals when pursued by predators or when being herded, the researchers were able to reconstruct what may have happened in each landscape.

The Mauran site in France has an assemblage of 4,150 bison bones from 137 individuals; Neanderthals repeatedly used the natural topography -  a cul-de-sac with open vegetation and marshy ground - to disadvantage bison.

Horse remains found in Zwolen, Poland, also suggest Neanderthals targeted harem groups by driving the animals down a grassy floodplain into natural bottlenecks produced by the river and cliffs.

Reindeer remains found at Salzgitter, Lebenstedt, Germany, were also killed in a similar way by intercepting the herd as they made their way towards their rutting ground.

Every dead animal was skinned for the fur, but only the fattest individuals with the best cuts of meat were butchered while the rest of the carcasses were left to rot.

Note: This was a common prehistoric hunting technique used in North America, with numerous sites. One example has been well documented - the Coso Range in Eastern California.

Bighorn hunting, resource depression, and rock art in the Coso Range, eastern California: a computer simulation model
By Alan P. Garfinkel et al
Journal of Archaeological Science
Volume 37, Issue 1, January 2010, Pages 42-51

 

Read more about Homo neanderthalensis in the ORIGINS section:

http://www.bradshawfoundation.com/origins/homo_neanderthalensis.php

Read more about the Coso Range:

http://www.bradshawfoundation.com/coso/index.php

Comment
Rock Art
Rock carvings rediscovered in Central Brazil
by Bradshaw Foundation
Wednesday 20 March 2024
Petition to save Vingen petroglyphs in Norway
by Bradshaw Foundation
Tuesday 13 February 2024
Norway's Vingen petroglyphs at risk
by Bradshaw Foundation
Tuesday 13 February 2024
Cave Painting
Capturing the art of Cosquer
by Bradshaw Foundation
Monday 30 May 2022
Hand Stencils in Chhattisgarh
by Bradshaw Foundation
Wednesday 19 January 2022
New U-series dating of rock art in China
by Bradshaw Foundation
Thursday 06 January 2022
Paleoanthropology
Lee Berger named NGS Explorer in Residence
by Bradshaw Foundation
Tuesday 21 March 2023
New study on Neanderthal hunting and butchery
by Bradshaw Foundation
Tuesday 07 February 2023
Denisovan connection in Laos
by Bradshaw Foundation
Thursday 19 May 2022
Archaeology
Palaeolithic dwelling found in La Garma cave
by Bradshaw Foundation
Monday 04 December 2023
New publication: Cave of Bones
by Bradshaw Foundation
Friday 30 June 2023
Circles of Stone
by Bradshaw Foundation
Thursday 06 April 2023
Anthropology
Early Women Were Hunters
by Bradshaw Foundation
Friday 14 July 2023
BBC's Nature and Us
by Bradshaw Foundation
Monday 22 November 2021
South Pacific Islanders used obsidian for tattoos
by Bradshaw Foundation
Tuesday 12 July 2016
World Heritage
Burrup Peninsula in World Heritage delays
by Bradshaw Foundation
Monday 27 November 2023
Fire damage on Rapa Nui
by Bradshaw Foundation
Friday 07 October 2022
Songlines: Tracking the Seven Sisters
by Bradshaw Foundation
Friday 05 November 2021
Follow the Bradshaw Foundation on social media for news & updates
Follow the Bradshaw Foundation
on social media for news & updates
Follow the Bradshaw Foundation on social media for news & updates
Follow the Bradshaw Foundation
on social media for news & updates
If you have enjoyed visiting this website
please consider adding a link © Bradshaw Foundation
 
 
ROCK ART NETWORK
Rock Art Network Bradshaw Foundation Getty Conservation Institute
Prehistomania
by Richard Kuba
13 June 2024
ROCK ART
CAVE PAINTINGS
Capturing the art of Cosquer
by Bradshaw Foundation
Monday 30 May 2022
Hand Stencils in Chhattisgarh
by Bradshaw Foundation
Wednesday 19 January 2022
New U-series dating of rock art in China
by Bradshaw Foundation
Thursday 06 January 2022
PALEOANTHROPOLOGY
ARCHAEOLOGY
Palaeolithic dwelling found in La Garma cave
by Bradshaw Foundation
Monday 04 December 2023
New publication: Cave of Bones
by Bradshaw Foundation
Friday 30 June 2023
Circles of Stone
by Bradshaw Foundation
Thursday 06 April 2023
ANTHROPOLOGY
Early Women Were Hunters
by Bradshaw Foundation
Friday 14 July 2023
BBC's Nature and Us
by Bradshaw Foundation
Monday 22 November 2021
South Pacific Islanders used obsidian for tattoos
by Bradshaw Foundation
Tuesday 12 July 2016
WORLD HERITAGE
Burrup Peninsula in World Heritage delays
by Bradshaw Foundation
Monday 27 November 2023
Fire damage on Rapa Nui
by Bradshaw Foundation
Friday 07 October 2022
Songlines: Tracking the Seven Sisters
by Bradshaw Foundation
Friday 05 November 2021
BOOK REVIEWS
Bradshaw Foundation Donate Friends
Support our work & become a
Friend of the Foundation
 
 
 
Bradshaw Foundation YouTube
Bradshaw Foundation iShop Shop Store
Bradshaw Foundation iShop Shop Store
Bradshaw Foundation iShop Shop Store