Cannibal Belgian Neanderthals made tools from human bones
Belgian Neanderthals were eating each other about 40,000 years ago, new research shows.
The discovery was made in a cave where scientists found bones bearing marks left by intentional butchering.
Not only were they cannibals, but the Neanderthals appear to have made tools out of the bones of their own kind, said researchers in the journal Scientific Reports.
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The study reported their find was "first unambiguous evidence of Neandertal cannibalism in Northern Europe".
Neanderthals lived in Europe and western Asia for hundreds of thousands of years before becoming extinct between 30,000 and 40,000 years ago.
Their disappearance followed the arrival of Homo sapiens.
The bones uncovered from caves in Belgium bore cut marks, pits and notches signifying butchery, the researchers said.
There was evidence of skinning, cutting and extraction of bone marrow.
"Nearly a third of the Neandertal specimens bear cutmarks."
Four bones suggested that Neanderthals also used the remains of their deceased as tools.
One thigh bone and three shin bones had been used to shape stone implements.
"Some bones had also been used as tools to retouch stone, specifically flint, which is very common in the area. This was often done with animal bones to create stone tools and they carry the same markings," the study said.