Interviewee: Sally McBrearty.
Paleoanthropologist Sally McBrearty talks about the controversy over how Neandertals buried their dead.
(DNAi Location: Applications > Human Origins > Comparisons > Behavior >Neandertal burials )
The Neandertals have always been thought to bury their dead, because there's so many complete skeletons of Neandertals which have been found. And I think from the number of skeletons that have been found, it's probably a good guess that they were deliberately burying the dead. However, there are a lot of skeletons of other cave-dwelling animals that are found in caves: cave bears or hyenas, that because they live in caves they often die in caves. And there, people have argued about whether rock falls, or simply accidental death, or natural death, occurring in a cave could preserve whole skeletons better than in the open air. But the argument has also been about the objects that you find associated with the Neandertal burials, because what you find together with Neandertal skeletons are really mundane objects, like stone tools, or animal bones that would be food remains.