Two Tiny Bones Tell Tale of Child Eaten by Bird

It happened about 115,000 years ago
By Luke Roney,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 14, 2018 4:41 PM CDT
Two Tiny Bones Tell Tale of Child Eaten by Bird
Stock image.   (Getty Images/SVproduction)

Two tiny finger bones found in a cave in Poland tell a pretty grim story: Sometime about 115,000 years ago, a "large bird" ate a Neanderthal child, Live Science reports. According to CNN, scientists determined the fate of the child based on the bones' porous surface, which, per researcher Pawel Valde-Nowak, resulted from the bones "passing through the digestive system of a large bird." What isn't known is whether the bird killed and ate the child, thought to be 5 to 7 years old, or if the child was already dead and the bird was a scavenger. Either way, Valde-Nowak says in a statement, "This is the first known example from the Ice Age."

Because of the poor condition of the bones, DNA analysis is not an option, according to reports. Nonetheless, the bones, discovered in Ciemna Cave, are an important find in Poland, as they are the oldest human remains unearthed in the country. Previously, the oldest human remains found in Poland were three Neanderthal molars dated to be about 52,000 years old. The finger bones, which measure just a centimeter in length, were found among animal bones a few years ago about 9 feet below the cave's current surface, per CNN. It wasn't until the bones were analyzed this year that researchers realized they were from a human. (Read how a bit of cave dirt has changed archaeology.)

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