Archaeologists armed with spears demonstrate how Neanderthals hunted

A team of archaeologists analyzed injuries to the skeletons of two deer and then attacked dear pelvises with sensor-equipped wooden spears to replicate the wounds. The result is a rare insight into how Neanderthal hunters made a living: thrusting short wooden spears at their prey, probably in well-coordinated group ambushes.

How did Neanderthals hunt?

Animal bones at several Neanderthal sites bear the telltale marks of butchery, but there’s little evidence of how, exactly, Neanderthals brought down their prey.

“We have hardly any evidence for weaponry before 40,000 years ago. The only obvious evidence so far—and even here not all archaeologists agree—are wooden spears or lances known from three sites only. Considering that hominins probably started hunting as early as 1.8 Mio years ago, evidence is meager,” Johannes Gutenberg–University Mainz archaeologist Sabine Gaudzinski-Windheuser told Ars Technica.

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