An ancient camp where Neanderthals had “hunting parties” was discovered in Madrid, Spain. Measuring 3,200 square feet, archaeologists think that it is the largest camp of its kind that was ever made in the region of the Iberian Peninsula.
It is believed that the camp, which was found at the Abrigo de Navalmaíllo site in Pinilla del Valle, was used by Neanderthals after they captured their food such as large bovids and deer approximately 76,000 years ago (they mostly captured and ate larger prey instead of smaller ones). Researchers came to this conclusion based on animal remains that were found at the site as explained by Abel Moclán who is a researcher at the National Center for Research on Human Evolution, “We have been able to demonstrate with great certainty that the Neanderthals of Navalmaíllo hunted mainly large bovids and deer that they processed at the site and that they would later move to a second referential place.”
After the Neanderthals captured their food, they brought the animals back to the camp where they prepared them before eating them and then some of the remains would have been brought to another location. Interestingly, analysis of the animal bones revealed that the Neanderthals extracted bone marrow to consume as a form of nutrition.
Additionally, the experts found evidence that other animals such as hyenas used the camp to bring their prey but those remains came from much smaller animals. They also would have eaten the leftovers from what the Neanderthals left behind.
While archaeologists had previously discovered evidence of Neanderthals inhabiting the region, such as finding stone tools and proof of fire, the “hunting party” camp is certainly very significant as they believe they used the site for a short amount of time. The authors wrote in part, “Navalmaíllo is one of the few archaeological sites in Iberia that can be interpreted as a hunting camp,” adding, “it is probable that more hunting camps are present in the Iberian Peninsula but are yet to be found.
Pictures of the camp as well as several animal bones can be seen here.
This wasn’t the only significant discovery regarding Neanderthals in Spain in recent months as just week ago it was reported that cave art found in Cueva de Ardales near Málaga was in fact made by the extinct species more than 60,000 years ago. (Those pictures can be seen here.)