WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- The bones of a Neanderthal child were discovered to have been digested by a giant prehistoric bird around 115,000 years ago, according to archaeologists in Poland.
- It is still unknown if the child’s death was caused by the giant bird.
- The Neanderthal child’s finger bones were unearthed in Ciemna Cave and are now the oldest known human remains to be discovered in Poland.
Archaeologists in Poland have discovered that the bones of a Neanderthal child had been consumed and digested by a giant prehistoric bird around 115,000 years ago.
Paweł Valde-Nowak, an archaeology professor at Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Poland, stated that the child’s phalanges, or finger bones, apparently passed “through the digestive system” of the bird.
He added, “This is the first such known example from the ice age.”
According to the archaeologists, it’s still unknown if the child’s death was caused by the giant bird.
The Neanderthal child’s finger bones, which were unearthed in Ciemna Cave, are the oldest known human remains to be discovered in Poland. The previous title holders were found in Stajnia Cave – three Neanderthal molars which dated to between 52,000 and 42,000 years ago.
Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis), modern humans’ closest extinct relatives, were known to have lived in Eurasia from around 300,000 to around 35,000 years ago. Neanderthals may have even lived up to around 24,000 years ago according to a 2006 study in the journal Nature, but were likely the last of their kind.
Valde-Nowak stated that the analysis of the finger bones revealed the child’s age to be around 5 to 7 years at the time of death. The 0.4-inch-long (1 cm) bones were found to be porous and dotted with several strainer-like holes.
The bones were not found to be suitable for DNA analysis, however, given their poorly preserved state.
Valde-Nowak explained that there were “no doubts that these are Neanderthal remains because they come from a very deep layer of the cave, a few meters [yards] below the present surface. This layer also contains typical stone tools used by the Neanderthal.”
In addition to the discoveries in Ciemna Cave, Neanderthal tools such as knife scrapers were also unearthed along the banks of Poland’s Vistula River. The Neanderthal-related discoveries in southern Poland suggest that the Neanderthals found the area to be beneficial, as compared to northern Poland which was covered with glacier during the last ice age.
Ciemna Cave has been studied by researchers for decades, and while the bones were found a few years ago, it wasn’t until 2018 that a new analysis revealed the bones to be Neanderthal.
Valde-Nowak described the discovery as “unique,” since “only single fragments of fossil bones belonging to relatives of modern man (Homo sapiens) have survived to our times in Poland.”
The research findings are due to be published in the Journal of Paleolithic Archaeology later this year.
Source: Live Science