Did bunnies kill the neanderthals? Signs point to 'yes'
Shades of Caerbannog! Could rabbits really be capable of killing humans? A new study suggests the otherwise cute animals may been the reason Neanderthal Man was knocked off the food chain.
A study by John Fa of the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust in Trinity, Jersey, suggests Neanderthals died because they failed to adapt their hunting to small animals like rabbits.
"Up until 30,000 years ago, the remains of large animals such as deer were abundant in caves. But around that time, coinciding with the disappearance of Neanderthals, rabbit remains became more prevalent. The authors postulate that humans were more successful at switching to catching and eating rabbits," NewScientist.com said.
"Fa and his team speculate that large-scale rabbit-hunting required the use of fire or dogs to chase rabbits out of their warrens, which might have proved too complex a strategy for Neanderthals to master," added science site io9.com.
Fa's next project is to study the isotopes in the bones of hominins from this region, which may differ according to what they ate, it added.
NewScientist.com cited claims by experts in 2009 that while Neanderthal Man could hunt dolphins and seals, they could not catch fish or birds.
But it said Fa and his colleagues, in their study, counted the skeletons of animals found in three excavation sites in Spain and southern France.
Quoting Fa, it said it was not clear why Neanderthals would have more trouble changing prey, or may not have been quite able to cooperate.
But it also quoted Bruce Hardy of Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, as saying Fa may have interpreted this too far, adding humans may have eaten more rabbits than Neanderthals, but neither would have exclusively eaten meat.
io9.com said that it could have been a case of Neanderthals chose extinction over survival as they could not figure out how to hunt rabbits.
"The one species that might have outwitted them — or at least proved too difficult to hunt — was the rabbit," it said. — TJD, GMA News