100,000-year-old Thigh Bones of Child in China Reveal Bite Marks
The bones of a child from 100,000 years ago display gnawed tooth marks, and researchers are trying to determine if this is evidence of cannibalism in the prehistoric Xuchang Man of China.
The two pieces of thigh bone were found 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) from Lingjing historical site in Xuchang, Henan province, China. They’re believed to belong to “Xuchang Man”, an extinct species of early human with possible links to modern day Chinese, reports news site DNA.
The bones show “signs of biting and gnawing” lead archaeologist Li Zhanyang said. However, it has not been determined if the marks on the remains were from animal predators or other humans. Other instances of cannibalism have been discovered in other populations, and “the possibility of fellow hominids eating nutritious content from the bones could not be ruled out,” Li added.
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These finds come nearly a decade after the important discovery of partial human fossilized skulls found in Henan, which were used in identifying the “Xuchang” species of hominin. The skulls, unearthed in fragments, are thought to date back between 80,000 and 100,000 years ago. These skulls are important to archaeology and anthropology as Xuchang Man fossil finds shed light on a period in history that remains mostly mysterious to scientists, and helps them connect the dots on the genetic lineage of modern-day Chinese.
The Xuchang skulls were hailed as the greatest find since the discovery of the Peking Man fossils in Beijing. Remains from the two species are filling in gaps of understanding regarding prehistoric humans in China.
Reconstructed skull of Peking man, based on specimens found at Zhoukoudian, China, and dated to approximately 230,000–770,000 years ago. Credit: Cambridge University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
According to DNA, “The Peking man is believed to have lived between 250 to 500 thousand years ago, but the fossil record of the progression from this ancient ancestor to modern humans had remained very much blank before the discovery of the Xuchang man.”
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Forensic facial reconstruction of Homo erectus pekinensis, commonly known at Peking Man. Cicero Moraes/Wikimedia Commons
Asia One notes that beyond the recently discovered thigh bones, over 1,000 artifacts, including animal bones and stone tools, have been unearthed at the Lingjing archaeological site.
The Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology has led the excavation at Lingjing, where so far bone fossils from at least nine individuals of varying ages have been found. It is said to be the largest site of human fossils discovered in over seven decades.
Li Zhanyang touched on the importance of the finds and the need for further examination, saying “Different from the ancient human skull fossils that were discovered eight years ago, the first the discovery of limb bone fossils provides more opportunities to decode the process of human evolution,” reports The News Recorder.
Many thousands of years ago, even before Homo sapiens evolved, humanoid people were using fire, according to Chinese scientists. (Source)
Featured Image: Cut marks observed on the femur of the Neanderthal child. Credit: M.D. Garralda et al. Representational image only.
By Liz Leafloor