The mysterious disappearance of Neanderthals about 30,000 years ago has baffled scientists for centuries.
But now, according to a leading fossil expert, it seems the race may have met a rather grisly end. They were eaten by our ancestors, the modern humans.
The basis for the claim is the markings on a Neanderthal jawbone found in Les Rois, south-west France during a study conducted by the Journal of Anthropological Sciences.
The cuts to the bone are similar to those left on those of deer and other animals butchered by humans in the Stone Age. It is believed that the flesh was eaten by humans and the teeth used to make a necklace.
Leader of the research team, Fernando Rozzi, of Paris’s Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, said: ‘Neanderthals met a violent end at our hands and in some cases we ate them.
‘For years, people have tried to hide away from the evidence of cannibalism, but I think we have to accept it took place.’
Mr Rozzi believes the jawbone provides evidence that Neanderthals were attacked and sometimes killed by humans, who then brought their bodies back to caves to eat or used their teeth and skulls as trophies.
I’m not surprised. The Neanderthals could easily be mistaken for odd upright sheep.