The Neanderthals were committed carnivores, and in order to obtain enough animal meat to survive, they needed to be skilled hunters. Neanderthals hunted bison, auroch (an ancestor of living cattle), deer, reindeer and musk ox, to name but a few.
They probably trapped their prey in bogs or on deep stream banks before closing in with their spears and making a kill at close range. A high rate of head and neck trauma in Neanderthals matches the pattern seen in present-day rodeo riders suggesting that, like these sportsmen, Neanderthals were tackling big animals up close and getting thrown off them.
"They do seem to have gone in for a much more in-your-face culture. That was reflected in the way they went in for the food quest. It was the same sort of pattern," says Gamble. "This applied to the way they built their societies, which I think were based on face-to-face interaction."