Rabbits are small, fast, and devilishly hard to catch. And that could have had dire consequences for Neanderthals.
A new study suggests that an inability to shift from hunting large mammals to wild rabbits and other small game may have contributed to the downfall of European Neanderthals during the Middle Paleolithic period, about 30,000 years ago.
"There have been some studies that examined the importance of rabbit meat to hominins"—or early human ancestors—"but we give it a new twist," said study lead author John Fa, a biologist at the United Kingdom’s Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust and Imperial College London.
"We show in our study that [modern humans] used rabbits extensively, but Neanderthals didn’t." Read more.