All necessary precautions

The main use of their tools was for hunting and breaking down carcasses. Neanderthals were ‘focused on hunting large beasts’, sometimes mammoths, but in other periods whatever there was to be found. Their game included fellow predators such as hyenas (which did well during warm periods), cave lions and cave bears. That last species would have been a terrifying thing to hunt. Anyone who has ever seen a grizzly bear knows the moment when you blink in amazement as you struggle to process just how unbelievably huge they are: nine feet tall, eight hundred pounds. It just doesn’t seem possible for an animal to be that big. Cave bears were bigger: eleven and a half feet, two thousand pounds. This explains Neanderthal man’s unsporting but deeply understandable preference for killing cave bears while they were hibernating.

— John Lanchester, Twenty Types of Human (review of Kindred: Neanderthal Life, Love, Death and Art by Rebecca Wragg Sykes), London Review of Books Vol. 42 No. 24 · 17 December 2020

More on cave bears.

All necessary precautions

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