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Neanderthals were cannibals and used leftover bones as tools

Technically Incorrect: A new study of remains found in Belgium suggests our ancestors were highly practical types.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.

When he was hungry, he couldn't readily grab a Snickers.

© Iain Masterton/incamerastock/Corbis

I sense many people are currently ululating just one word into the ether: Why?

We claim to be such civilized types, yet look how we behave.

I have unearthed something that may begin to explain how our behavior stems from our roots.

A newly-published piece of research suggests that Neanderthals weren't quite the sweet, misunderstood sorts that they appear to be in Geico ads.

Indeed, this team of scientists led by Dr. Hélène Rougier of California State University believe that a lack of, well, what we call humanity might have been part of our original beings.

Fine young neanderthal cannibals would eat dead old neanderthal cannibals, it seems.

The researchers studied four sets of adult remains and the single tooth of a child. This was more than researchers had previously managed to garner.

They noticed certain cut marks which bore a similarity to the way that these ancient beings cut up horses for food.

The idea that neanderthals might have been cannibals isn't new. In 1999, for example, remains found in France hinted at such an apparently practical practice.

Indeed, the researchers say that as early as 1901 some remains found in Croatia suggested man-eating habits, but this was later debunked.

The remains from the latest research come from the so-called Third Cave of Goyet in Belgium.

The researchers remain undecided about why cannibalism might have taken place.

"Whether this was part of a symbolic activity or induced by a functional motivation cannot be attested," says their report.

There was another interesting discovery. The researchers suspect that while neanderthals may have eaten the flesh of their forebears, they saved some of their bones to use as tools.

Which, if you switch off your more emotive human faculties, makes sense.

It's unknown if all neanderthals followed cannibalistic practices, or whether these were merely the habits of these particular Belgians.

Still, this all might shed a tiny light on why our dog-eat-dog world is, well, how it is.