BEACON TRANSCRIPT – Researchers have discovered that almost 500,000 years ago a human was eaten completely by the ferocious, ancient hyenas. They were led to believe so after the finding of a human thighbone, chewed up by what seems to be hyena teeth.
This adds up to previous clues that point out humans to have been both prey and predators before they gathered their power through numbers and advanced weapons. As reported by the PLOS ONE journal, the bone was discovered in the Grotte à Hominidés cave near Casablanca in Morocco.
The team of researchers analyzed the gnawed bone and deduced that it stands as proof that ancient carnivorous animals did hunt and eat early humans, sometimes in a cave as it is the current case. The finding also shows the close relationships in Atlantic Morocco from the Middle Pleistocene. However, these relationships ended up being too close in the context of competition for living spaces and resources. It is believed that hyenas ate the human because of the teeth marks present on the bone, but also the way the human was consumed. The researchers suspect that after finishing the flesh, the hyena crushed the ends of the bone and then proceeded to eat the marrow of the human.
The unlucky fellow seems to have been part of the Homo rhodesiensis species based on the other remains found in the same cave. These people were quite similar to us, the modern humans. Scientists know that they used to hunt together in groups with advanced weapons for the time being. In this way, they were capable of killing large prey, but also survive encounters with fierce predators.
Since both early humans and ancient hyenas shared the same areas and thus competed for natural shelter and resources, it was a tough time for both of them. What researchers could not determine yet is whether the animals stumbled upon the corpse of a human and ate or if it also killed the human.
The cave was a tremendous resource of ancient bones which revealed other animals part of the same ecosystem, including wildebeest, antelopes, rhinos, bears, porcupines, gazelles, zebras, leopards and baboons. It appears that almost all of them have been hunted by humans.
According to the leader of the project, Camille Daujeard,
“Although encounters and confrontations between archaic humans 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.”
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