320,000 years ago, the skins of dangerous cave bears were in fashion
Researchers at the University of Tübingen have obtained evidence for the purposeful hunting of cave bears for their skins by ancient people. This issue has long been a subject of debate in the scientific community – cave bears are too dangerous predators to be a common hunting object. Undoubtedly, our ancestors did not miss the opportunity to hunt bears, but now we know for sure that it was the skins of the animals that interested them in the first place.
In the pits and caves near the German city of Schoeningen, some of the most ancient tools have been found that are 300-317 thousand years old. Many animal bones have also been found here, including bear bones. Studying them, scientists found tiny and extremely precise cut marks from a stone knife on the finger bones of a bear’s paw.
When cutting a carcass for meat, characteristic marks remain on the bones, but in this case they are the result of gentle skinning, as there is little meat on the bear’s paws. German scientists compared the cuts with marks from purposeful skinning and saw almost complete similarity. Importantly, the bones belonged to a large adult bear, which is an extremely dangerous target, but its pelt is also as warm and large as possible.
The presence of bones of adult animals at the sites of ancient people unequivocally indicates the fact of hunting them. There is no point in hunting for calves, their pelt is small and their fur has not yet grown back, and the quality of the pelt leaves much to be desired with old individuals and fallen animals. It turns out that our ancestors consciously took risks and hunted the most dangerous predators of their time, in order to make themselves blankets and other protection from the winter cold. Hides of less dangerous animals were much worse for this purpose.