Human Evolution

, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 81–91 | Cite as

Spongiform encephalopathy, cannibalism and Neanderthals extinction

  • Chiarelli B. 


There are paleoecological evidences that Neanderthals ate the brains of deers and goats as well that of their own deceased. This would expose each individual and the population to the risks of contracting the Creutzfeldt Jacob disease. Those who consumed the remains of infected individual’s would then contract the disease and eventually infect others. If this is the case then the Neanderthal extinction could be attributed to spongiform encephalopathy and not to the cultural supremacy of the anatomically modern man.


neanderthals cannibalism spongiform encephalopathy 


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Copyright information

© International Institute for the Study of Man 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chiarelli B. 
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratori di Antropologia ed EtnologiaUniversità degli Studi di FirenzeFirenzeItaly

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