Evidence for a likely 50,000-year-old Neanderthal burial ground that includes the remains of at least three individuals has been unearthed in Spain, according to a Quaternary International paper.
The deceased appear to have been intentionally buried, with each Neanderthal's arms folded such that the hands were close to the head. Remains of other Neanderthals have been found in this position, suggesting that it held meaning.
Neanderthals therefore may have conducted burials and possessed symbolic thought before modern humans had these abilities. The site, Sima de las Palomas in Murcia, Southeast Spain, may also be the first known Neanderthal burial ground of Mediterranean Europe.
"We cannot say much (about the skeletons) except that we surmise the site was regarded as somehow relevant in regard to the remains of deceased Neanderthals," lead author Michael Walker told Discovery News. "Their tools and food remains, not to mention signs of fires having been lit, which we have excavated indicate they visited the site more than once."
Walker, a professor in the Department of Zoology and Physical Anthropology at the University of Murcia, and his colleagues have been working at the site for some time. So far they have found buried articulated skeletons for a young adult female, a juvenile or child, and an adult -- possibly male -- Neanderthal.
"We cannot say whether these three individuals were related, though it is likely," he said, explaining that DNA has been denatured due to high ambient temperatures. "Surely the child was related to one of the others, though."
The three skeletons represent some of the best-preserved, and most methodically excavated remains of Neanderthals.
"Such discoveries are extraordinarily uncommon," Walker said.
The Neanderthals were found covered together with rocks burying their remains. The researchers believe it's likely that other Neanderthals intentionally placed the rocks over the bodies from a height. While it cannot be ruled out that an accident killed the three individuals, the scientists believe that wasn't the case.
"I think there is just enough evidence at Sima de las Palomas to think that three articulated skeletons are unlikely to have been the result of a single random accident to three cadavers that somehow escaped the ravages of hyenas and leopards, which were present at the site," Walker said.
Unburnt bones of two articulated panther paws were embedded in rock "in an area where the rest of the animal's skeleton was conspicuous by its absence notwithstanding its proximity to the human skeletons," the authors write.
The researchers speculate that a Neanderthal cut off the panther paws and kept them. It is also possible that the paws were added to the bodies before burial, perhaps holding some ritual significance.
You can access the entire article HERE.
Are these remains those of true Neanderthals? Please read about this interesting race of humans HERE
The Urantia Book dates the appearance of the Neanderthal race at roughly 550,000 ago. The remains described in the article date to about 50,000 years ago - so, are they really Neanderthal? Consider this passage:
64:7.8 "Since the fifth glacier did not extend so far south in Europe, the way was partially open for these Sangik peoples to migrate to the northwest; and upon the retreat of the ice the blue men, together with a few other small racial groups, migrated westward along the old trails of the Andon tribes. They invaded Europe in successive waves, occupying most of the continent.
"In Europe they soon encountered the Neanderthal descendants of their early and common ancestor, Andon. These older European Neanderthalers had been driven south and east by the glacier and thus were in position quickly to encounter and absorb their invading cousins of the Sangik tribes.
"In general and to start with, the Sangik tribes were more intelligent than, and in most ways far superior to, the deteriorated descendants of the early Andonic plainsmen; and the mingling of these Sangik tribes with the Neanderthal peoples led to the immediate improvement of the older race. It was this infusion of Sangik blood, more especially that of the blue man, which produced that marked improvement in the Neanderthal peoples exhibited by the successive waves of increasingly intelligent tribes that swept over Europe from the east."
It appears that this find of buried remains may be those of the improved Neanderthal peoples, who were upstepped by the mingling with the Sangik races...