| 3 October 2015
Another sign of Neanderthal intelligence and resourcefulness
It has long been thought that Neanderthals did not possess either the intelligence or the equipment to catch and kill large, fast flying birds. Recent findings, some going back to 2011, show evidence to the contrary.
The birds in question can be classed in two categories, raptors (birds of prey) and corvids (carrion scavengers), although some raptors also have corvid habits. The evidence centres around four European sites where talons have been found with marks of working, leading to the assumption that they had been fashioned into jewellery.
So how did the Neanderthals catch them? Well, the answer may be simpler than you would think. The evidence that Neanderthals hunted large mammals is undisputed. What probably happened after a kill would be that the carcass of the animal, adorned with tasty morsels of flesh etc., would be abandoned at the kill site. After the hunters had left the corvids would gather, to pick over the remains, joined by some of the raptors (two common day raptors, the Red and Black Kites demonstrate these traits).
Who knows when this behaviour was first spotted but we can conjecture that one day a hunter stayed behind, hidden, and whilst the corvids were concentrating on the feast before them, he crept up and either speared or clubbed them. This hunting technique, along with other recent evidence of Neanderthal genetics and behaviour is the theme of the Calpi Conference, held in September in Gibraltar, in the hope of redefining this enigmatic species.
Edited from BBC News (23 September 2015)
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