Neanderthal Women Joined Men in the Hunt





A new explanation for the demise of the Neanderthals, the stockily built human species that occupied Europe until the arrival of modern humans 45,000 years ago, has been proposed by two anthropologists at the University of Arizona.

Unlike modern humans, who had developed a versatile division of labor between men and women, the entire Neanderthal population seems to have been engaged in a single main occupation, the hunting of large game, the scientists, Steven L. Kuhn and Mary C. Stiner, say in an article posted online yesterday in Current Anthropology.

Because modern humans exploited the environment more efficiently, by having men hunt large game and women gather small game and plant foods, their populations would have outgrown those of the Neanderthals.

The Neanderthals endured for about 100,000 years, despite a punishing way of life. They preyed on the large animals that flourished in Europe in the ice age like bison, deer, gazelles and wild horses. But there is no evidence that they knew of bows and arrows. Instead, they used stone-tipped spears.


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