115,000-year-old Bones Found in Poland are of a Neanderthal Child that was Eaten by a Bird

115,000-year-old Bones Found in Poland are of a Neanderthal Child that was Eaten by a Bird

In 2013 some very early hominid bones were uncovered by archaeologists in a cave in southern Poland. There have been extensive studies conducted on the remains and they have led to some astonishing discoveries. It seems that some of the bones are those of a six-year-old Neanderthal girl who died a violent death. The bones are much older than originally thought and the discovery is transforming our understanding of the first hominids in Europe.

The discovery of the bones

The bones were discovered in a cave near Jaskinia Ciemna in the southern Małopolska region by a team from the Jagiellonian University. They were unearthed several meters beneath the floor of the cave, which seems to have been occupied by species of hominoids for millennia. The remains are those of ‘a member of the Homo sapiens neanderthalensis’ reported the First News website. It was initially difficult to identify the exact nature of find as they were mixed with those of prehistoric animals. The find included three teeth and the tiny bones from the hand of a hominid child and they were located near some ancient stone tools and implements.

The find was immediately recognized as very important and there were several years of extensive analysis undertaken. It was only after detailed analysis that it was established that they were the remains of Neanderthals. This was not a surprise to the researchers but when they dated the bones they were stunned. First News reports that a professor of the Jagiellonian University stated that “the bones discovered by our team are the oldest hominid remains from the area of Poland”.

Finger bones of Homo sapiens neanderthalensis are the oldest hominid remains found in Poland. (Jacek Bednarczyk/ PAP)

The analysis of the fingerbones

A detailed analysis of the child’s finger bones showed that they were about 115,000 years old. This is very significant as they are twice as old as the previous finds in the area, which were teeth that date from 50,000 years ago. Despite their great age they ‘are fairly recent compared to a set of fossils found in Morocco and believed to be the oldest hominid bones ever discovered’ reports the Inquistir. Archaeologists found the remains in a cave near Marrakesh and they are believed to be 320,000 years old.

The finger bones, while tiny, are telling us much about the hominid child. It has been established that she was about six but was no younger than four or older than seven. When analysing the remains, the experts made a gruesome discovery - they had been ingested. In other words, the fingers of the child had been eaten and gnawed. Based on further studies it was found that the finger bone had been ingested by some large extinct bird.

There are two possible theories. One is that the poor girl appears to have been attacked and fatefully wounded by a large bird of prey who ate her fingers. The other possibility is the gigantic bird may have been a scavenger who ate the fingers of the child after she had died.

Who were the Neanderthals?

The Neanderthals colonized Europe about a quarter of a million years ago. They successfully adapted to life on the continent, but they became extinct about 40,000 years ago. These hominids were replaced by modern humans, but it appears that there was some interbreeding between the two species . Some 5% of modern human’s DNA and genetic material is derived from this extinct species of hominoids.

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These hominoids lived in a hostile and dangerous environment. Early and violent deaths were the norm. The Neanderthals had only stone implements such as knives to help them to survive in this hostile world. They lived south of vast glaciers that still covered most of Poland during an Ice Age. However, the Neanderthals were perfectly adapted to this harsh and brutal environment and even flourished in it for many tens of thousands of years.

The find and the subsequent analysis of the bones are adding to our knowledge of some of the earliest hominoids in Poland. They are showing us that Neanderthals lived in the east of Europe at an earlier date than previously believed. The findings from the study are being published in a leading academic journal and there are plans to continue to investigate the remains and the cave where they were unearthed.


    'Eaten and Gnawed': Bones of 115,000-Year-Old Neanderthal Found in Polish Cave

    Neanderthals are our closest extinct human relative. They colonized Europe and the Middle East long before modern humans and went extinct less than 30,000 years ago.

    The discovery of finger bones from a Neanderthal child who died 115,000 years ago is transforming existing knowledge about Europe&rsquos first hominids.

    &ldquoThe bones discovered by our team at Jaskinia Ciemna [a cave in the southern Malopolska region] are the oldest hominid remains from the area of Poland,&rdquo Professor Pawel Valde-Nowak from the Jagiellonian University of Krakow told PAP.

    The three teeth and tiny finger bones of a Neanderthal child that died roughly 115,000 years ago predate the previous oldest hominid bones found in the area by more than two times.

    The bones, found several meters below the contemporary floor of the cave that seems to have been occupied by a species of hominoids for thousands of years, show signs of digestion, apparently by a large extinct bird, archaeologists say.

    Tiny as they are, the finger bones still tell much about the Neanderthal child, aged five to seven years old, who may have been attacked and killed by a bird of prey or a scavenger may have eaten and gnawed the child&rsquos fingers after she/he had died.

    It was only after a detailed analysis that scientists finally determined that the remains found in the Polish cave belonged to Neanderthals. The discovery is transforming the existing knowledge about Europe&rsquos first hominids.

    Previously, the oldest Neanderthal remains were three molars dated to 52,000-54,000 years old.

    Despite their age they are fairly recent compared to a set of fossils found in Morocco and believed to be 320,000 years old.

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    115,000-Year-Old Bones Found In Poland Reveal Neanderthal Child Eaten By Gigantic Prehistoric Bird

    Researchers realized the bones were so porous because they’d passed through the digestive system of an enormous bird.

    PAP/Jacek Bednarczyk The tiny finger bones belonging to the Neanderthal child. A few years ago, a team of researchers in Poland came across a pair of Neanderthal bones that held a grisly secret: Their owner had been eaten by a giant bird.

    The two finger bones belonged to a Neanderthal child who had died roughly 115,000 years before, making those bones the oldest known human remains from Poland, according to Science In Poland.

    Once the bones were analyzed, the scientists concluded that the hand bones were porous because they had passed through the digestive system of a large bird.

    It is unclear if the bird killed the child and then ate him or if the animal simply scavenged on the child’s already-dead body, but researchers say that “neither option can be ruled out at this point.”

    No matter what happened, these bones are a remarkable discovery. The researchers said that this is the first known example from the Ice Age of bones passing through a bird’s digestive system.

    Neanderthals, which are very close relatives of modern humans, most likely popped up in Poland around 300,000 years ago and died out about 35,000 years ago.

    Professor Paweł Valde-Nowak from the Institute of Archaeology of the Jagiellonian University in Kraków says that he can count the number of unearthed Neanderthal remains on a single hand, including the child’s finger bones.

    This groundbreaking discovery was almost overlooked because, when the phalange bones were first found in the cave, they were accidentally mixed up with animal bones. It wasn’t until a laboratory analysis was conducted on the bones that scientists figured out how important they were.

    Barbara Drobniewicz The tiny finger bones belonging to the Neanderthal child.

    The analysis showed that the child was somewhere between five and seven-years-old when he died. The bones are tiny, less than one centimeter long, and are poorly preserved so scientists will unfortunately not be able to conduct DNA analysis on them.

    Despite this setback, the scientists are confident that they belonged to a Neanderthal.

    “We have no doubts that these are Neanderthal remains because they come from a very deep layer of the cave, a few meters below the present surface,” Dr. Valde-Nowak said. “This layer also contains typical stone tools used by the Neanderthal.”

    Dr. Valde-Nowak added that just because the bones were discovered in the cave, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the Neanderthals used it as a permanent residence. He said that it is entirely possible that they just used it seasonally.

    It’s remarkable to think that a poor child who might’ve been killed by a giant bird thousands of years ago has given Poland one of its greatest archaeological discoveries of all time.


    Giant, Prehistoric Bird Chowed Down on This Neanderthal Child's Bones

    One Neanderthal child had a very bad day about 115,000 years ago. The child died — that much is certain — and the bones were gulped down and digested by a giant, prehistoric bird, according to archaeologists in Poland.

    However, it's unclear whether the giant bird killed the child before the gruesome feast or whether the child died from another cause before the bird scavenged the remains, the archaeologists said.

    Either way, it appears that the child's phalanges (finger bones) passed "through the digestive system of a large bird," Paweł Valde-Nowak, a professor of archaeology at Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Poland, said in a statement. "This is the first such known example from the ice age." [In Photos: Bones from a Denisovan-Neanderthal Hybrid]

    The discovery of the Neanderthal child's finger bones is a big finding, especially because the bones, discovered in Ciemna Cave, are the oldest known human remains ever to be found in Poland.

    Until now, the oldest known human remains in Poland were three Neanderthal molars from Stajnia Cave that dated to between 52,000 and 42,000 years ago. Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis) lived in Eurasia from about 300,000 to about 35,000 years ago and are modern humans' closest extinct relatives. (The date for the extinction of Neanderthals is up in the air. According to a 2006 study in the journal Nature, Neanderthals may have lived to about 24,000 years ago, although these individuals were likely among the last of their kind.)

    An analysis of the newly analyzed finger bones revealed that the child was likely between the age of 5 and 7 when he or she died, Valde-Nowak said. The 0.4-inch-long (1 centimeter) bones themselves are porous, and dotted with dozens of strainer-like holes, he added.

    But given their poor state of preservation, the bones are not suitable for DNA analysis, Valde-Nowak and his colleagues said.

    "But we have 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," Valde-Nowak said. "This layer also contains typical stone tools used by the Neanderthal."

    Moreover, it appears that the Neanderthals used the cave seasonally, he said. Researchers have been studying Ciemna Cave for decades, and while they found the child's bones (as well as a few ancient animal bones) there a few years ago, it wasn't until 2018 that a new analysis revealed that these bones belonged to a Neanderthal.

    "This is a unique discovery," Valde-Nowak said. "Only single fragments of fossil bones belonging to relatives of modern man (Homo sapiens) have survived to our times in Poland." Researchers have also unearthed Neanderthal tools — such as knife scrapers, which could be used to cut and scrape — on the banks of Poland's Vistula River. All of these Neanderthal findings come from southern Poland, indicating that the region was advantageous for Neanderthals, unlike northern Poland, which was covered with a glacier during the last ice age.

    The research, which is not yet published, is due out later this year in the Journal of Paleolithic Archaeology.


    Grisly discovery: Bones reveal Neanderthal child was eaten by large bird

    Archaeologists in Poland have identified the prehistoric bones of a Neanderthal child, that appears to have been eaten by a large bird.

    Archaeologists in Poland have identified the prehistoric bones of a Neanderthal child eaten by a large bird.

    The small hand bones were found in a cave in Southern Poland’s Malopolska region, according to Science in Poland, a public information service devoted to Polish science. Discovered a few years ago, the remains were thought to be animal bones until they were analyzed earlier this year.

    Tiny holes in the bones indicate that they passed through a large bird’s digestive system, according to Professor Pawel Valde-Nowak of the Jagiellonian University in Krakow. It’s not clear, however, whether the bird attacked and ate the young Neanderthal or scavenged the remains of a dead child.

    Believed to be about 115,000 years old, the bones are the oldest human remains ever discovered in Poland.

    Experts from the Jagiellonian University and Washington University in St. Louis confirmed that the remains are digital bones from a child’s hand.

    The Archaeological Museum of Krakow and the Polish Academy of Sciences also participated in the research, which will be published in the Journal of Paleolithic Archaeology.

    The closest human species to homo sapiens, Neanderthals lived in Eurasia for around 350,000 years. Scientists in Poland report that Neanderthals in Europe mostly became extinct 35,000 years ago. However, there are a number of theories on the timing of Neanderthals’ extinction, with experts saying that it could have occurred 40,000, 27,000 or 24,000 years ago.

    In a separate study, researchers recently reported that climate change may have played a more important part in Neanderthals’ extinction than previously thought.


    Sasquatch Chronicles Blog

    Scientists have discovered the bones of a Neanderthal child who had been eaten by a giant bird. The finger bones appear to have come from a child aged between five and seven. Whether the bird attacked the child, or if it scavenged the bones, is not yet clear.

    The remains, discovered in Poland, date back over 115,000 years. They are the oldest ever found in the country found in the country, and have provided researchers with new insight into how and where our ancient relatives lived. Before now, the oldest human remains found in Poland dated to around 50,000 years.

    Researchers from Jagiellonian University in Krakow came across the bones during excavations at the Cave Ciemna, located in the town of Ojcow. Previous research has shown the cave was occupied by Paleolithic people. It includes passages reaching about 200 meters and a vast chamber where over 1,000 stone artifacts have previously been collected by archaeologists.

    In a study that will be published in the Journal of Paleolithic Archaeology later this year, researchers reveal the discovery of the digested Neanderthal digits. The bones are less than one centimeter long and were found alongside other animal remains.

    “We have no doubts that these are Neanderthal remains, because they come from a very deep layer of the cave, a few meters below the present surface. This layer also contains typical stone tools used by the Neanderthal,” Paweł Valde-Nowak, from the Institute of Archeology at Jagiellonian University, told Science in Poland.

    The bones from the child’s hand were found to be porous, with lots of tiny holes over the surface. “Analyses show that this is the result of passing through the digestive system of a large bird. This is the first such known example from the Ice Age,” Valde-Nowak said.

    A large bird could have potentially attacked a small Neanderthal child, he said. Alternatively, the bird could have scavenged the bones from a dead body. At the moment, the researchers say, either option is plausible.

    They also warn that the discovery does not necessarily mean Neanderthals occupied the cave.

    However, it does appear to show Neanderthals had reached Poland more than 100,000 years ago. Valde-Nowak said this species probably appeared in the country about 300,000 years ago: “There is still a discussion as to how long Neanderthals lived in Europe, including Poland,” he said. Whether or not they lived alongside humans in the region is also unclear.
    Bones of a Neanderthal Child Eaten by Giant Bird Discovered in Poland
    Neanderthals are believed to have gone extinct around 38,000 years ago, having emerged in Europe about 400,000 years ago. They were once thought of as an inferior, more brutish species to modern humans—but evidence is increasingly pointing to their sophistication.

    Recent analysis of their hand bones showed they were highly dexterous. By scanning fossils and looking at how the muscle attachments would have worked, scientists were able to build up a picture of how Neanderthals used their hands. Findings showed they would have been able to manipulate objects with the precision of a highly skilled worker.

    Another study from September also indicated Neanderthals had a reasonably sophisticated healthcare system and would have provided long-term support for sick and injured members of society. At the time, Penny Spikins, from York’s Department of Archaeology, told Newsweek: “We showed that the high frequency of injuries and recovery [observed in the remains] fitted into a lifestyle in which Neanderthals needed to be able to survive injuries in order to find enough food to survive in the environments that they lived in. Care is not just something which makes Neanderthals more ‘human’ in our eyes but [was] essential to survival and may well have been a significant factor allowing humans to move into an ecological niche of being predators.”

    It is not clear why Neanderthals went extinct. Climate change and competition with modern humans have both been implicated—Homo sapiens lived alongside and interbred with Neanderthals for thousands of years, and to this day modern Europeans and Asians have approximately two percent Neanderthal DNA.


    Bones of a Neanderthal child show it was eaten by giant pre-historic bird, scientists say

    SALT LAKE CITY ― The story behind Poland's oldest human remains is a little hard to swallow.

    Scientists recently identified fossils found in Poland a few years ago as the remains of a human child who was apparently eaten by a giant bird.

    According to CNN, because the child’s remains were found among animal bones, it wasn’t until this year when researchers could do a lab analysis, which found some of the bones were identified as human.

    The bones were recognized as phalanges, which are digital bones of a human hand.

    Two anthropologists, Anita Szczepanek from Jagiellonian University in Krakow and Erik Trinkaus from Washington University in St. Louis, both confirmed that the bones belong to a neanderthal.

    “The bones our team discovered in Cave Ciemna are the oldest human remains from the area of today’s Poland, they are about 115,000 years old" professor Paweł Valde-Nowak, a researcher from the Institute of Archeology of the Jagiellonian University, reportedly told Science Poland.

    The porous surface of the bones came as a result of passing through the digestive system of a large bird. According to Science Poland, it's still unknown whether the bird attacked and partially consumed the young child, or fed on the child when it was already deceased.

    The bones, which are no more than a centimeter long, are poorly preserved, making it impossible to perform a full DNA analysis.

    But Valde-Nowak said that the lack of a DNA analysis does not prevent scientists from feeling confident about their discovery.

    “[We] have no doubts that these are Neanderthal remains, because they come from a very deep layer of the cave, a few meters below the present surface. This layer also contains typical stone tools used by the Neanderthal," he said.

    The Smithsonian reported that prior to this, the oldest known human remains found in Poland were three Neanderthal molars dating to 42,000 to 52,000 years ago, making the 115,000-year-old fingers a significant discovery.

    The findings will be published this year in the Journal of Paleolithic Archaeology.


    Bones Reveal Neanderthal Child was Eaten by a Giant Prehistoric Bird

    Until recently, the oldest human fossil remains ever discovered in Poland were three molars found in Cave Stajnia, in the Krakow-Czestochowa Upland.

    Those molars were estimated to be between 42-52,000 years old.

    According to Science in Poland, that discovery has recently been blown away. A pair of finger bones belonging to a young Neanderthal child have been found in Cave Ciemna.

    Photo by PAP/Jacek Bednarczyk

    The bones appear to have been digested by a large bird and are estimated to be about 115,000 years old.

    Identification was confirmed by Dr. Anita Szczepanek from the Jagiellonian University in Krakow and Professor Erik Trinkaus from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.

    Scientists noticed that the bones were poorly preserved, and very porous, dotted with tiny holes.

    “Analyses show that this is the result of passing through the digestive system of a large bird. This is the first such known example from the Ice Age,” said Professor Pavel Valde-Nowak of the Institute of Archaeology from Jagiellonian University.

    Photo by Barbara Drobniewicz

    He believes that the bird could have attacked and partially consumed a small child, or it may have found the child already deceased and eaten it then. Either possibility was equally likely.

    The poor state of the bone preservation means that scientists can’t extract any DNA from them, but scientists feel comfortable saying the bones belonged to a Neanderthal, according to Professor Valde-Nowak, as the bones came from what at one time was a deep part of the cave which also contained Neanderthal stone tools.

    Related Video: The hybrid Neanderthal girl consisting of two different human species:

    The Neanderthals may have actually lived in the cave, or they may have just used it seasonally. The bones were actually discovered a few years ago, mixed up with a lot of animal bones, but scientists only recently did the analysis that showed them to be human remains.

    Photo by PAP/Jacek Bednarczyk

    The discovery is even more important as, up until now, only single bone fragments of pre-humans had been found in Poland.

    According to BestNews, the bird who consumed the bones was probably a giant terror bird. Scientists believe that this family of birds rose to the top of the food chain for about 60 years after a meteor took out the dinosaurs who had previously held that spot.

    Reconstruction of the phorusrhacid bird Llallaavis scagliai, from the Pliocene of Argentina. Photo by Rextron CC BY-SA 4.0

    There were 17 species of the terror bird family that were prevalent at the time, and their diet was mostly herbivore mammals. While scientists think that most of the birds died off about a million years ago, there’s evidence to suggest that at least some of their relatives were still around until about 10,000 years ago.

    Size comparsion between 4 species of terror bird and a human. 1. Dinornis novaezelandiae (3 meters tall). 2. Emeus crassus (1.8 meters tall). 3. Anomalopteryx didiformis (1.3 meters tall). 4. Dinornis robustus (3.6 meters tall).

    As impressive as the find in Poland is, those bones are nowhere near the oldest human fossil remains that have ever been discovered. In 1974 a team of archeologists in Ethiopia found a skeleton buried in a layer of sediment that was known to be about 3.2 million years old.

    Photo by Paweł Valde-Nowak

    The small skeleton was assumed to be female, given its size, and was dubbed Lucy. Lucy was a new species of early human and gave evolutionary scientists whole new avenues for research.

    Even in Europe, there are human fossils dating back 1 million years. According to ScienceAlert, new research is suggesting that humans may even have developed in Europe prior to their development in Africa.

    Researchers were doing deep analysis on a fossilized jawbone from Greece and a premolar from Bulgaria. The fossils were from a species known to be hominid, if not human, but after using micro-computed tomography and 3D reconstructions, scientists discovered similarities with bones in modern humans and their predecessors.

    The fact remains, however, that the human fossil record is far from complete, and we only have a hazy idea of when, where, and how proto-humans took the first evolutionary steps that set us apart from the apes and other hominids.

    That’s why every discovery like the one in Poland is important they all take us a little bit closer to filling in the blanks of how we came to be.


    RELATED ARTICLES

    Less than 1cm long, the bones are so fragile researchers are unable to perform DNA analysis on them

    Researchers noted the ' characteristic, porous surface of the bones, dotted with dozens of holes, reminiscent of a strainer'.

    'Analyses show that this is the result of passing through the digestive system of a large bird,' said Professor Paweł Valde-Nowak from the Institute of Archeology of the Jagiellonian University in Kraków.

    'This is the first such known example from the Ice Age' he added.

    'This is a unique discovery.'

    However, researchers say they are whether the bird attacked and ate the young Neanderthal or scavenged the remains of a dead child.

    The small hand bones were found in a cave in Southern Poland's Malopolska region

    The 115,000 year old bones are the oldest ever found in Poland. Pictured, researchers in the cave

    'The bones our team discovered in Cave Ciemna are the oldest human remains from the area of today`s Poland, they are about 115,000 years old' Valde-Nowa added.

    Experts from the Jagiellonian University and Washington University in St. Louis worked on the new analysis, along with the Archaeological Museum of Krakow and the Polish Academy of Sciences.

    The results are due to be published in the Journal of Paleolithic Archaeology later this year.

    The small hand bones were found in a cave in Southern Poland's Malopolska region

    WHEN DID HUMAN ANCESTORS FIRST EMERGE?

    The timeline of human evolution can be traced back millions of years. Experts estimate that the family tree goes as such:

    55 million years ago - First primitive primates evolve

    15 million years ago - Hominidae (great apes) evolve from the ancestors of the gibbon

    7 million years ago - First gorillas evolve. Later, chimp and human lineages diverge

    A recreation of a Neanderthal man is pictured

    5.5 million years ago - Ardipithecus, early 'proto-human' shares traits with chimps and gorillas

    4 million years ago - Ape like early humans, the Australopithecines appeared. They had brains no larger than a chimpanzee's but other more human like features

    3.9-2.9 million years ago - Australoipithecus afarensis lived in Africa.

    2.7 million years ago - Paranthropus, lived in woods and had massive jaws for chewing

    2.6 million years ago - Hand axes become the first major technological innovation

    2.3 million years ago - Homo habilis first thought to have appeared in Africa

    1.85 million years ago - First 'modern' hand emerges

    1.8 million years ago - Homo ergaster begins to appear in fossil record

    800,000 years ago - Early humans control fire and create hearths. Brain size increases rapidly

    400,000 years ag o - Neanderthals first begin to appear and spread across Europe and Asia

    300,000 to 200,000 years ago - Homo sapiens - modern humans - appear in Africa


    Bones reveal Neanderthal child was eaten by a giant bird

    When researchers discovered the oldest human remains ever found in Poland a few years ago, they didn't reali.

    When researchers discovered the oldest human remains ever found in Poland a few years ago, they didn't realize that the bones were hiding a grisly secret.

    In fact, it wasn't until this year that they realized the bones were human at all, because they were found among animal bones. The researchers discovered that they were human during a lab analysis, according to Science in Poland.

    Anthropology and archeology

    Humanities and social sciences

    The two tiny phalanges, or digital bones of the hand, are about 1 centimeter long and belonged to a Neanderthal child who was between 5 and 7 years old. The researchers have determined that the bones are 115,000 years old.

    Two anthropologists, Anita Szczepanek from Jagiellonian University in Krakow and Erik Trinkaus from Washington University in St. Louis, confirmed the bones as belonging to a young Neanderthal.

    An analysis revealed that the bones were covered with dozens of holes, creating a very porous surface. That detail was very telling, the researchers said.

    "Analyses show that this is the result of passing through the digestive system of a large bird. This is the first such known example from the Ice Age," said Pawel Valde-Nowak, team researcher and professor at Jagiellonian University's Institute of Archeology, in a statement.

    The researchers believe that the bird either attacked and partially consumed the child, or fed off of the child after it died. At this point, it could be either, they said.

    Unfortunately, the bones are poorly preserved, which eliminates the possibility of a DNA analysis.

    Previously, the oldest human remains uncovered in Poland were three Neanderthal molars estimated to be about 52,000 years old.

    The phalanges were uncovered in Ciemna Cave, where excavations have been underway for decades. They were found in a deep layer about 9 feet below the current surface, along with stone tools used by Neanderthals. It is unclear whether the bones ended up in the cave because the Neanderthals lived there or because they used it seasonally.

    The findings will be published this year in the Journal of Paleolithic Archaeology.


    115,000-year-old Bones Found in Poland are of a Neanderthal Child that was Eaten by a Bird - History

    Researchers realized the bones were so porous because they’d passed through the digestive system of an enormous bird

    Related Stories

    A few years ago, a team of researchers in Poland came across a pair of Neanderthal bones that held a grisly secret: Their owner had been eaten by a giant bird.

    The two finger bones belonged to a Neanderthal child who had died roughly 115,000 years before, making those bones the oldest known human remains from Poland, according to Science In Poland.

    Once the bones were analyzed, the scientists concluded that the hand bones were porous because they had passed through the digestive system of a large bird.

    It is unclear if the bird killed the child and then ate him or if the animal simply scavenged on the child’s already-dead body, but researchers say that “neither option can be ruled out at this point.”

    No matter what happened, these bones are a remarkable discovery. The researchers said that this is the first known example from the Ice Age of bones passing through a bird’s digestive system.