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Neanderthals Make Case for Jewelry’s Relevance

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To the left, cave painting. New research shows that 80,000 years before supposedly sophisticated Homo sapiens began thinking they were so cool with their eight-legged bison paintings, Neanderthals wrestled giant eagles out of the sky to collect their talons for jewelry-making. Scientists believe eagle claws manipulated for ornamental wear clearly demonstrate that Neanderthals were capable of symbolic thought and expression. It appears that Neanderthals valued jewelry enough that even with all their other caveman stuff going on—like getting out of the way of mammoths and getting fire locked down—they still found time to craft wearable art.

An image of white-tailed eagle talons from the Krapina Neandertal site in presen
An image of white-tailed eagle talons from the Krapina Neandertal site in present-day Croatia, dating to approximately 130,000 years ago, photo: Luka Mjeda, Zagreb, source: Smithsonian.com

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  • The current AJF Staff Writer is Dina Noto. In the past, our staff writers have included Susan Cummins, Bonnie Levine, and Kerianne Quick, among others. 

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