Evidence Neanderthals used feathers for decoration

Feb 23, 2011 by Lin Edwards report
Neanderthals

(PhysOrg.com) -- Researchers studying a large deposit of Neanderthal bones in Italy have discovered the remains of birds along with the bones, and evidence the feathers were probably used for ornamentation. The findings add evidence that the now extinct Neanderthals could have been as cultured as our own ancestors.

Paleoanthropologist Marco Peresani from the University of Ferrara in Italy and colleagues were studying Neanderthal remains in the Fumane Cave near Verona in northern Italy when they discovered the bones of birds in layers that were on the surface around 44,000 years ago.

The 660 bird bones included wing bones showing evidence of scraping, peeling and cutting by stone tools at the points at which the large flight would have been attached. The feathers would have been of no culinary value and many of the bird species are poor food sources in any case. Feathered arrows had not yet been invented, and so the feathers would have had no practical value either, which suggests they were most likely removed for use as ornamentation or decoration.

The researchers found the first bird bones in September 2009 and this spurred them to re-examine all the bones found in that layer. Among the 22 species of birds they found were bearded lammergeiers, red-footed falcons, Eurasian black vultures, golden eagles, common wood pigeons, and Alpine choughs. The feather colors included black, blue-gray, gray and orange-slate gray.

Dr Peresani said bird feathers have been widely used by humans and have served a variety of purposes including making ornamental and ceremonial objects, and in games, but they have not previously been found associated with . Other researchers have found shells in association with Neanderthal bones and suggested they may have worn them as jewelry.

The paper is published in the journal (PNAS).

Explore further: 'Jaws' lived in Doncaster according to fossil record

More information: Late Neandertals and the intentional removal of feathers as evidenced from bird bone taphonomy at Fumane Cave 44 ky B.P., Italy, by Marco Peresani, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Published online before print February 22, 2011, doi:10.1073/pnas.1016212108

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User comments : 23

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Johannes414
1.2 / 5 (19) Feb 23, 2011
One day science will concede Neanderthals not to be the sub-human brutes as portrayed by evolutionists, but simply modern humans with a robust appearance. Evolution is a lie.
d_robison
4.4 / 5 (7) Feb 23, 2011
One day science will concede Neanderthals not to be the sub-human brutes as portrayed by evolutionists, but simply modern humans with a robust appearance. Evolution is a lie.


State scientific evidence for you claims.
kaasinees
2.8 / 5 (4) Feb 23, 2011
but simply modern humans with a robust appearance.


And why would they have a robuster appearance than others? Right evolution.
PaulieMac
5 / 5 (3) Feb 23, 2011
One day science will concede Neanderthals not to be the sub-human brutes as portrayed by evolutionists, but simply modern humans with a robust appearance. Evolution is a lie.


lol! Neanderthals were 'simply modern humans with a robust appearance'?!Ahh.. Thank you for my first good laugh of the day :)

harryb
1 / 5 (2) Feb 23, 2011
Can any good thing not be out of Africa?
jamesrm
5 / 5 (1) Feb 23, 2011
Maybe they liked to tickle each other :)
Terrible_Bohr
5 / 5 (6) Feb 23, 2011
One day science will concede Neanderthals not to be the sub-human brutes as portrayed by evolutionists, but simply modern humans with a robust appearance. Evolution is a lie.

You get an equally-persuasive rebuttal: All religions are lies. I imagine we're both equally moved by each others' arguments.
StillWind
1.8 / 5 (5) Feb 23, 2011
Hmmm, interesting that the trolls all jump on this. It is not only religious people who don't believe in evolution, and it is certainly not only religious people who believe that the current paradigm concerning neanderthals is flawed.
It is perfectly obvious to the informed that our perceptions of ancient humans is flawed, and the new evidence coming to light proves that beyond a doubt.
You're all just making asses of yourselves in public.
LuckyBrandon
3.8 / 5 (5) Feb 23, 2011
While I do agree that neanderthal was most likely not a sub-human brute as it was so eloquently put, it was a homosapien as we are either. It actually leads more proof to evolution than anything, all it means is that we weren't a single lineage, which makes perfect sense evolutionarily. there isnt just one kind of snake, or one kind of frog, or one kind of bear....
rynox
4.6 / 5 (5) Feb 23, 2011
One day science will concede Neanderthals not to be the sub-human brutes as portrayed by evolutionists, but simply modern humans with a robust appearance. Evolution is a lie.

The problem is evolution is widely thought of as a biological phenomena, but I would posit that it is instead a mathematical phenomena and an inescapable truth.

Do you believe you have some genetic traits carried down from your mother & father? Do you believe that only the strongest species survive in nature? If you accept those two basic concept then you believe in evolution, you just don't know it.

I say this from the point of view of a Christian. I have, through the years, adopted my beliefs because of what I've discovered about our world. You see, I am not a science denier.
j_stroy
5 / 5 (3) Feb 23, 2011
No Practical use??
How about for warmth?
Perhaps arranged, overlapped as a rain hat/cloak?
Quills stuck to body hair with pitch?
Quills stuck into a piece of wood making a lightweight shelter panel, similar to a palm leaf?

It is poor science to assume only artsy or mystical belief above practical needs for things outside our modern imagination. Today's TV survivor men have nothing compared to the skills of these old guys.
Bog_Mire
not rated yet Feb 23, 2011
arrow quill
frajo
5 / 5 (5) Feb 24, 2011
Do you believe you have some genetic traits carried down from your mother & father? Do you believe that only the strongest species survive in nature? If you accept those two basic concept then you believe in evolution, you just don't know it.

[1] Not "the strongest" but "the fittest". Which could well be the weakest, depending on the situation.

[2] Evolution is not a system with non-falsifiable statements. Thus, it's not a belief system; it's part of science. Science deals with falsifiable items.

"Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution" (Th. Dobzhansky).
Johannes414
1 / 5 (7) Feb 24, 2011
Genetic change over time does not equate Darwinian evolution. Species change over time within the bandwidth of their gene-pool. Birds develop out of birds and moths from moths.

Otherwise, provide the best example of a new life-form that has been observed by scientists to emerge from an accumulation of genetic mutations.
Ethelred
5 / 5 (4) Feb 24, 2011
Species change over time within the bandwidth of their gene-pool.
Which changes via mutations. And pretty much all offspring have a mutation or two.
Otherwise, provide the best example of a new life-form that has been observed by scientists to emerge from an accumulation of genetic mutations.
Flying squirrels. Fruit bats. And it is the natural selection of the mutations that drive evolution.

Provide some evidence that the human race had just 8 ancestors 4400 years ago. Or provide an alternative date for the Flood.

Ethelred
Marcos_Toledo
4 / 5 (1) Feb 25, 2011
It Neanderthals use feathers they could have atach them to their giant arrows thrown useally refared as spears by spear throwers.
Bog_Mire
5 / 5 (2) Feb 25, 2011
Australian Aborigines use feathers in a lot of ritual costumes and have been on mainland for at least 40k years.
A_Paradox
5 / 5 (1) Feb 26, 2011
j stroy,

your
It is poor science to assume only artsy or mystical belief above practical needs for things outside our modern imagination.

is a bit shy of the point.

For those hunter-gatherers their lives were embedded in the world around them. We can pretty much guarantee that bodily ornamentation was always meant to 'look good' but also that it carried many levels of meanings which integrated each person into the social and natural worlds. In all cultures for example it is vitally important that people know who belongs where and who can mate with whom. So on the one hand it may have been that one or more of the local lineages belonged in country where certain bird species lived [eg wetland birds versus high forest birds]. Also their dreaming stories may have incorporated oral history of migrations caused by climate change [post glaciation] where the ancestors had used knowledge of bird ecology to find suitable hunting grounds. cont ...
A_Paradox
5 / 5 (1) Feb 26, 2011
... cont
The challenge of maximising fertility whilst avoiding the genetic problems of in-breeding as well as facilitating communication and trade meant that hunter-gatherers needed arbitrary social divisions also which defined and regulated marriage and inheritance relationships. People who lived near each other would know and recognise clan members even if they belonged to groups [moieties, whatever] with whom they should have no physical or spoken [or possibly even no overt visual] contact. Distance relatives or 'strangers' would might need to wear lineage and moiety emblems in order to prevent embarrassing social collisions.

Human life has always been complicated.
Old_Warhorse
5 / 5 (1) Feb 27, 2011
If Dr. Peresani's premise is correct, reading about the colors of the plumage of the various species of birds found makes me wonder if Neanderthals may have been color blind.
d_robison
not rated yet Mar 01, 2011
If Dr. Peresani's premise is correct, reading about the colors of the plumage of the various species of birds found makes me wonder if Neanderthals may have been color blind.


Could be, I do know that primates are very observant though and generally have excellent eye-sight (with the exception of certain species). This would be a very interesting characteristic to find out, is there a certain gene corresponding to color-blindness in primates? If so, is the effect of the gene being "turned on" or "turned off" the cause of color-blindness in certain modern humans or is this due to another problem?
hymmer
5 / 5 (1) Mar 06, 2011
I for one am happy to accept Neandertals as part of my Europoid ancestry. I suspect that my blonde hair, blue eyes, white skin and perhaps my left-handedness indicate an increased genetic survival of these marvelously adapted (to northern environments)people. That people with, on average, larger brains than we moderns could find uses, both practical and decorative, for the products on their environment should go without saying. Ancient myths about the 'mighty' but different men of old: Jotun, Colossi, who bred with men and produced the 'gods and heroes' of great strength and cunning may have genetic merit. Europoids are, on average 4% Neandertal; so have respect for my ancestors!
Billbo
not rated yet Mar 11, 2011
Hummmm. Every one miss a clue here! The real reason Neanderthals went extinct is they weren't smart enough to figure out that they couldn't fly, but kept on trying.......