Women in early hunter-gatherer groups regularly hunted big game alongside their male peers, indicates a study published on November 4 in the journal Science Advances. Researchers excavated a 9,000-year-old partial skeleton in the Andes buried with hunting tools and determined that the remains belonged to a young woman. The team also pored over previous reports of human remains from this time period, and found numerous other examples of women in North and South America buried with tools used in big-game hunting.
However, a number of researchers have speculated that some ancient societies might have had a more equal division of labor. “We think that people were engaged in more group hunting practices,” says Shannon Tushingham, an archaeologist and director of the Museum of Anthropology at Washington State University who was not involved in the research. “It would make sense that men and women and children were all dispatching these large animals.”