The first evidence of Neanderthal cannibalism in northern Europe has been discovered at a cave in Goyet, Belgium. The four adults and one child unearthed at the Troisième caverne constitute the biggest haul not only in terms of the amount of remains found but also the number of individuals represented in a site north of latitude 50º.
Signs of Neanderthal cannibalism are present on some of the 99 skeletal remains, as well as evidence that bones were used as percussive instruments to help shape soft stone tools. Led by Dr Hélène Rougier, the new study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, has helped expand the knowledge of known Neanderthal behavior in relation to the dead in northern Europe.
As more and more insights are gradually revealed about the behavior of the Neanderthals, humanity’s closest extinct relatives, it becomes apparent that they displayed significant variability in their actions and customs. This perhaps shouldn’t be surprising, that different groups of Neanderthals had different practices, just as is the case among different groups of humans.