CXE8PZBZ4WVM It is hard to say when this belief in animal-ancestors first originated. At any rate it could not be later — and perhaps it was much earlier-than the time when primitive artists painted animals on the rock walls of their caves.
Ancient people believed that they were descended from animals. Each tribe had his own ancestor whom it was supposed to revere, whom they were not allowed to kill and were expected to protect. But it is one thing to protect ravens or snakes, which were not hunted much anyway, but what were they to do about bears whose meat was much to the taste also of those tribes which traced their origins to this animal?
Bears' skulls have been found in large numbers in excavations of caves and other dwellings of primitive people. Skulls, mind you. Obviously primitive hunters paid some kind of homage to bears which they killed. Perhaps they asked their forgiveness, as North American Indians do. Perhaps, they held some kind of solemn ceremony around a dead bear, then carried the carcass to the village and, after eating the meat, gave the bones a reverent burial, as used to be done by the Evenki, who considered the bear their "grandfather"? Or perhaps, like the Mansi, once the bear's meat was eaten, they placed his skull on a place of honour in their homes.