Tel Aviv University archaeologist Ruth Blasco and her colleagues conducted an experiment to preserve edible bone marrow using the method of Neanderthals or other human ancestors such as Homo erectus. It was based on the findings in the Kesem Cave, where various types of ancient people lived 400, 000 years ago. Most of all, scientists were interested in the metapodials found here - long bones of deer legs, on which there is no meat, only tendons and skin.
The main value of metapodials is tasty and nutritious bone marrow, so it is not surprising that all bones found in the cave were split. However, scientists were intrigued by the nature of the damage. In her experiment, Ruth took several dozen metapodials and folded them in a kind of cave without any processing. Every week, she took another bone and, using the analogs of Neanderthal stone tools, tried to get to the bone marrow.
It has been found that in dry climates, the skin and tendons dry out very quickly and turn into a crust that insulates the bone. Every week it became more difficult to cut it off, it was necessary to make efforts that left marks on the bones, similar to those found in the cave. But the most interesting thing is that thanks to this, the bone marrow remained intact and did not lose its nutritional properties from 6 to 9 weeks, depending on the air temperature. That is, metapodials served as analogs of canned food, allowing ancient people to store valuable food.
Modern technologies make it possible to distinguish whether the bone was broken fresh or dried - all the metapodials of the Kesem cave were already broken dry. This contradicts the hunting traditions of tribes close to modern times, where they tried to feast on bone marrow immediately after the killing of the animal. But getting food was also more difficult for Neanderthals, so stockpiling seems rational. And such planning indicates a higher level of intellectual development than we previously attributed to them.