Neanderthals feasted on lions

Neanderthal cavemen hunted and feasted on lions, according to new research.

Washington: Looks like our ancestors could boast of the proverbial nerves of steel - Neanderthal cavemen hunted and feasted on lions, according to a new Spanish research.

The study appears in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

A team led by Ruth Blasco of the Universitat Rovira i Virgili in Tarragona, Spain, found lion bones at the Gran Dolina site in Sierra de Atapuerca.

The cave contains hundreds of animal bones, largely red deer and horses, but also a few carnivores in rock layers dating to 250,000 to 350,000 years ago.

One set of lion bones stands out among the other carnivores like foxes and bears.

"The relatively high occurrence of cutmarks on lion bones (11.76 percent) indicates an association between hominids (humans) and this predator," says the study, adding, "cutmarks related to the skinning and defleshing are identified and the human use of bone marrow is documented by diagnostic elements of anthropogenic (man-made) breakage. All these evidences suggest that the lion was used for food," reports USA Today.

The study also suggests cave diners hunted the lion, Panthera leo fossilis, a cave lion about seven feet long, considerably bigger than today``s African lions.

"The fact that no pathologies have been documented on the P. leo fossilis remains, which indicate possible diseases or injuries of a traumatic nature that make this predator vulnerable," suggests that they hunted the big cat.

Even though early humans didn``t hunt lions often, they likely resided higher than the cats on the food chain, the team says, concluding, "the hunting of this predator suggests that the hominids of the Middle Pleistocene are successful hunters able to face the large predators."