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Scientists pretend to be Neanderthals to explore how they caught birds in caves for food


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Neanderthals, our closest relatives, became extinct between 40,000 to 35,000 years ago. Since the discovery of the first Neanderthal fossil 165 years ago, scientists have learned more about Neanderthals—including their culture, sociality, ecology, diet, control of fire, production and use of tools, physiology, and even their genomic code—than about any other non-human hominin. Here, Spanish researchers use a highly original approach—scientific "role play"—to reconstruct a novel element of Neanderthal behavior: cooperating with group members while using fire and tools to catch choughs, birds from the crow family, from their night roosts inside caves. Their findings are published in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution.

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