Neanderthals not just cave men, studies find they made their own JewelryMd Noman Siddique (Author) Published Date : Mar 12, 2015 12:36 ET
In an astonishing discovery, a study by a Croatian team including a researcher from the University of Kansas have found that Neanderthals were more cognitively advanced than we thought.
Dr. David Frayer, a professor emeritus of anthropology of University of Kansas, who was part of the study said that a set of eagle talons dated approximately 130,000 years ago, found in present-day Croatia includes several marks and polishing facets that conclusively show they were manipulated into a piece of jewelry.
Neanderthals are often thought of to be simple-minded mumbling, bumbling, stumbling fools, Frayer said. But the more we know about them the more sophisticated they've become.
The researchers examined the talons and found that four of them bear multiple smooth edged cut marks around the top.
Three of the largest talons also have small notches at roughly the same place along upper area of the talon blade.
All eight of the talons appear to show signs of polishing.
The findings were published in the article Evidence for Neanderthal Jewelry: Modified White-tailed Eagle Claws at Krapina this month in the journal PLOS ONE.
According to Frayer, the eight white-tailed eagle bones were discovered more than 100 years ago from a single level at the Krapina Neanderthal site in northern Croatia, originally excavated between 1899 and 1905. However, researchers only recently recognized and identified the cut marks on the bones as external manipulations.
There's just no doubt that they made it, and it was a necklace or bracelet or piece of jewelry, Frayer said.
Detailed records from the excavations at the Krapina site helped ensure for researchers that the manipulated eagle talons were dated at least 80,000 years earlier than any modern humans entered Europe, so the team has no doubt that Neanderthals were solely responsible.
Dr. Frayer said, These talons provide multiple new lines of evidence for Neanderthals abilities and cultural sophistication .
It really shows a level of technical sophistication, too, he said.
It's really a stunning discovery. It's one of those things that just appeared out of the blue. It's so unexpected and it's so startling because there's just nothing like it until very recent times to find this kind of jewelry, Frayer said.
Neanderthals not just cave men, studies find they made their own Jewelry