A number of eight eagle talons discovered over 100 years ago at the prehistoric archaeological site of Kravina, in Croatia has researchers from Kansas University believe that they could be the oldest known example of jewelry made by an anthropomorphic species.

The eight claws – that were found in a disparate state when discovered at the beginning of the last century – display matching cut marks that suggest they were at some point bound together, probably with sinew. Layering data from the Kravina site also imply that the pieces are about 130,000 years old – implying that it was manufactured by Neanderthals, the closest evolutionary relative of modern humans.

Past archaeologists have dismissed the pieces as being separate weapons, ignoring or not observing the cut marks they presented. The talons display overall signs of polish rather than sharpening specific to bone weapons, and seem to have been taken from a white eagle.

This conclusion was announced in a research published in the Public Library of Science One journal, done by a mixed team of Croatian archaeologists and KU researchers led by Dr. David Frayer.

Dr. Frayer suggests that this might shift the perspective about the cultural side of Neanderthals, which were widely regarded in the past as not being capable of symbolic manifestations and abstract thinking leading to art.

This comes after a string of recent developments concerning study of Neanderthals that challenges the idea of them being just rudimentary cavemen; a December 2013 research suggests that they intentionally buried their dead and practiced burial rituals, while theories are being made about how they could have developed a primitive form of religion.

Recent genetic study also confirmed interbreeding between Neanderthals and modern humans about 50.000 years ago, which led to them contributing to our own DNA. The Neanderthalian genome was also mapped out in 2013, suggesting that the differences from human DNA are as low as 0.12 percent.

The discussion regarding Neanderthals in scientific communities revolves mostly around the nature of their cohabitation with modern humans and if they could be classified as a subspecies of the Homo Sapiens. This was dismissed by most academic figures until now, but if evidence suggesting the presence of an artistic side in our closest relative continues to amass, it might deem necessary an overhaul of our current views on Neanderthals.

Image Source: Sci-News