Remains of 1,00,000 year-old Neanderthals 'killed by hyenas' discovered in Italian cave

Remains of 1,00,000 year-old Neanderthals 'killed by hyenas' discovered in Italian cave

Besides the bones, the researchers also found traces of vegetables alongside the humans and those of rhinoceroses, giant deer, and hyenas.

The remains of Neanderthals, believed to be 1,00,000 years old, have been unearthed by some Italian archaeologists in a cave about 100 km southeast of Rome.

The archaeologists found the remains of nine neanderthals, thought to have been killed by hyenas, in the Guattari Cave in the coastal town of San Felice Cicero. After the discovery, the team identified the skull fragments and broken jawbones.

The expedition was carried out by scientists from the Archaeological Superintendency of Latina and the University of Tor Vergata, who said the remains belonged to seven adult males one female, and another of a young boy, according to a report by The Guardian.

They said the individuals most likely lived in different time periods as some bones could be 50,000 to 68,000 years old.

The examined remains include broken jaw bones and skullcaps. The cave where they were found had already gained popularity for its having fossils of neanderthals. The last discovery was made in 1939.

"It is a spectacular find. A collapse, perhaps caused by an earthquake, sealed this cave for more than 60,000 years, thereby preserving the remains left inside for tens of thousands of years,” Mario Rolfo, professor of archaeology at Tor Vergata University, was quoted as saying by The Guardian.

Remains of 1,00,000 year-old Neanderthals 'killed by hyenas' discovered in Italian cave
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Besides the bones, the researchers also found traces of vegetables alongside the humans and those of rhinoceroses, giant deer, and hyenas.

Due to this, the researchers believe the Neanderthals were killed by hyenas and then dragged back to the cave, which was most likely their den.

“Neanderthals were prey for these animals. Hyenas hunted them, especially the most vulnerable, like sick or elderly individuals,” added Rolfo.

Rolfo added that his team intended to analyse the DNA of the neanderthals to understand their ways of life.

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