debunking clever cave men

11 Apr 2015

At ... I suppose it was bound to happen. Following a cluster of studies that have shown Neanderthals were not the stupid backward mugglewups of the human tree we now have a fight back by the old guard who cannot accept Neanderthals were as bright as buttons. That is one way to look at it but on the other hand, somebody might just have checked out some bone fragments and raised the alarm as all was not as it was first proposed. The Royal Society has published a paper that claims so called Neanderthal bone flutes are really the chewed on bones of cave bear cubs, as a result of scavenging. All this happened during the Ice Age and the culprits were it seems, hyenas. The flutes were said to be the oldest musical instruments in the world - just a couple of months ago. This of course raised the profile of the Neanderthals, and perhaps that was the intention. The new study claims the bones have holes made by teeth and measuring the profile they appear to fit quite well with the jawbones of hyenas. The rub is that they also claim the bones do not actually date to the Neanderthal period - but to the Late Palaeolithic (a sort of double barrelled critique). If the first barrel doesn't get you - the second one will. A big put down - but who is right?