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(CNN)Some 125,000 years ago, enormous elephants that weighed as much as eight cars each roamed in what's now northern Europe.
Scientifically known as Palaeoloxodon antiquus, the towering animals were the largest land mammals of the Pleistocene, standing more than 13 feet (4 meters) high. Despite this imposing size, the now-extinct straight-tusked elephants were routinely hunted and systematically butchered for their meat by Neanderthals, according to a new study of the remains of 70 of the animals found at a site in central Germany known as Neumark-Nord, near the city of Halle.
The discovery is shaking up what we know about how the extinct hominins, who existed for more than 300,000 years before disappearing about 40,000 years ago, organized their lives. Neanderthals were extremely skilled hunters, knew how to preserve meat and lived a more settled existence in groups that were larger than many scholars had envisaged, the research has suggested.
A distinct pattern of repetitive cut marks on the surface of the well-preserved bones — the same position on different anim