Hominins may have been food for carnivores 500,000 years ago

April 27, 2016, Public Library of Science
Tooth-marks on a 500,000-year-old hominin femur bone found in a Moroccan cave indicate that it was consumed by large carnivores, likely hyenas, according to a study published April 27, 2016 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE. Credit: C. Daujeard PLOS ONE e0152284

Tooth-marks on a 500,000-year-old hominin femur bone found in a Moroccan cave indicate that it was consumed by large carnivores, likely hyenas, according to a study published April 27, 2016 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Camille Daujeard from the Muséum National D'Histoire Naturelle, France, and colleagues.

During the Middle Pleistocene, likely competed for space and resources with , who occupied many of the same areas. However, to date, little evidence for direct interaction between them in this period has been found. The authors of the present study examined the shaft of a femur from the skeleton of a 500,000-year-old hominin, found in the Moroccan cave "Grotte à Hominidés" cave near Casablanca, Morocco, and found evidence of consumption by large carnivores.

The authors' examination of the revealed various fractures and indicative of carnivore chewing, including tooth pits as well as other scores and notches. These were clustered at the two ends of the femur, the softer parts of the bone being completely crushed. The marks were covered with sediment, suggesting that they were very old.

While the appearance of the marks indicated that they were most likely made by hyenas shortly after death, it was not possible to conclude whether the bone had been eaten as a result of predation on the hominin or had been scavenged soon after death. Nonetheless, this is the first evidence that humans were a resource for carnivores during the Middle Pleistocene in this part of Morocco, and contrasts with evidence from nearby sites that humans themselves hunted and ate carnivores. The authors suggest that depending on circumstances, hominins at this time could have both acted as hunter or scavenger, and been targeted as carrion or prey.

Camille Daujeard notes: "Although encounters and confrontations between and large predators of this time period in North Africa must have been common, the discovery ... is one of the few examples where hominin consumption by carnivores is proven."

Explore further: Killer entrance suspected in mystery of unusually large group of carnivores in ancient cave

More information: Daujeard C, Geraads D, Gallotti R, Lefèvre D, Mohib A, Raynal J-P, et al. (2016) Pleistocene Hominins as a Resource for Carnivores: A c. 500,000-Year-Old Human Femur Bearing Tooth-Marks in North Africa (Thomas Quarry I, Morocco). PLoS ONE 11(4): e0152284. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0152284

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kaiserderden
4 / 5 (4) Apr 27, 2016
how about 5 minutes go ... go out on the plains of Africa for a week or 2 unarmed and see how fast you become food for todays "carnivores" ... may have been ? really ? may have been or always have been ...
Squirrel
4 / 5 (2) Apr 28, 2016
Actually, lions, hyenas and other top predators do not go after humans dead or alive. Simply, humans are so nasty to them if they get in "human space" that they stay clear. It's the exceptional "man eater" that gets notoriety. But that is evidence of how much predators in general normally avoid humans--the norm is keep clear so that the individuals they do not stand out as exceptional. Humans are not weak and defensive when armed with stone tools--particularly as a group out to teach some rouge predator a lesson. What is interesting about the above report is that this avoidance did not occur at this Moroccan cave. It

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