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Neanderthals Had Fashion Too, Unearthed Jewelry Implies

Mar 12, 2015 01:36 PM EDT
(Photo : Luka Mjeda, Zagreb / University of Kansas)

Neanderthals may have seemed brutish and dumb, but they certainly had style. A new study has shown that before the prehistoric humanoids mysteriously disappeared from the face of the Earth, they were wearing eagle talons as jewelry on their bodies.

A study recently published in the journal PLOS One details how researchers identified eight ancient claws from white tailed eagles in a cave in Croatia that must have served as a Neanderthal camp 130,000 years ago. Four of the talons even had distinct notches and cut marks to suggest they had once been strung together as part of a necklace or bracelet.

David Frayer, an anthropologist at the University of Kansas recently even called the discovery "absolutely stunning," adding that it fits in with an emerging idea that Neanderthals were much more intelligent beings than originally thought.

"Neanderthals are often thought of to be simple-minded mumbling, bumbling, stumbling fools," Frayer said in a statement. "But the more we know about them the more sophisticated they've become."

[Credit: University of Kansas ]

And he's not wrong. Over the last year alone, Nature World News has reported on at least eight stories detailing more and more evidence of how smart these "sub humans" really were, cooperating with early humans, catching evasive prey like pigeons and even dolphins with hunting traps, crafting their own bone tools, and even developing their own art forms.

At this Neanderthal site in particular, archaeologists have found more than 900 Neanderthal bones dating between 120,000 and 130,000 years ago. Alongside the eagle talons, they also found primitive stone stools, a fire pit, and the bones of tasty rhinos and cave bears. Evidence indicated that the cave had not been touched by humans until it was excavated by explorers 100 years ago, helping press the argument that the claw jeweler was undoubtedly crafted by "brutish" Neanderthals.

There is even evidence that the crafter of these ornaments has an eye for detail, with some of the talons boasting evidence of polishing.

"It really shows a level of technical sophistication," Frayer pressed.

He even goes as far as to suggest that the craftsmen who made the jewelry were likely catching the birds they came from live, as discarded eagle talons are not a common find. That fact alone is certainly a strong sell for Neanderthal intelligence and guile, as catching a bird of prey is no easy task.

For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).

- follow Brian on Twitter @BS_ButNoBS


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