Posted on 30/03/2012
BBC documentary makers have used the expertise of Professor Danielle Schreve, from the Department of Geography at Royal Holloway, University of London to form part of a three-part series about different species of early humans.
Filming took place at a site in Lyndford, Norfolk, which dates back to around 60,000 years ago, where bones of mammoth, woolly rhino and other animals were found in a former river channel, associated with dozens of Neanderthal hand axes.
The programme makers are interested in what the environment was like at the time and also in exploring Neanderthal diet and hunting practices.
Professor Schreve says sites like Lynford come along once in a generation so studying this site has been a unique opportunity for her. The exceptional richness of the biological remains has allowed the team to reconstruct a detailed scene from 60,000 years ago, drawing on evidence from fossil mammals, plant remains, snails and beetles.
The thousands of bones, including 10 adult mammoths and flint tools found abandoned in this former river channel has posed some interesting questions about how they got there.
Professor Schreve said: “There is compelling evidence that Neanderthals were making full use of the mammoth carcasses and most likely actively hunting them, bringing finished handaxes to the site, ready to undertake a specific task. Sites such as Lynford have helped to overturn the old view that Neanderthals were marginal scavengers and reposition them, quite rightly, as dynamic hunters and top carnivores in these challenging environments”.
The programme ‘Prehistoric Autopsy’, is co-presented by George McGavin and Alice Roberts and will be broadcast on BBC 2 in the autumn.