Human Meat Just Another Meal for Early Europeans?
Cannibalism helped meet protein needs, keep rivals in line, study suggests.
The 800,000-year-old butchered bones from the cave, called Gran Dolina, indicate cannibalism was rife among members of western Europe's first known human species, Homo antecessor.
The fossil bones, collected since 1994, reveal that "gastronomic cannibalism" was commonplace and habitual—both to meet nutritional needs and to kill off local competition, according to the study, published in the August issue of Current Anthropology.
(Also see "Neanderthals Turned to Cannibalism, Bone Cave Suggests.")
The cannibalism findings are based on leftover bones bearing telltale cut and impact marks, apparently from stone tools used to prepare the cave meals.
The butchered remains of at least 11 humans were found mixed up with those of bison, deer, wild sheep, and other animals, said study co-author José Maria