Testing meat-eating in early hominids: an analysis of butchery marks on defleshed carcases

Abstract

The diet of early hominids responsible for the bone accumulations at Plio-Pleistocene sites is still a controversial issue. Meateating and bone marrow consumption are often presented either as complementary or as opposing strategies of carcass exploitation. The occurrence of cut marks on fossil bones at early sites is a potential source of information that has not been consistently used as evidence of what products hominids obtained from carcasses. Some authors interpret them as the result of manipulating meat-bearing bones, whereas others believe that they can also be the result of extracting marginal scraps of flesh that have survived carnivores’ initial consumption of carcasses. In this study, a referential framework concerning the latter process is presented and it is concluded, according to the data drawn from the FLK “Zinj” site and the results obtained in the experiment, that hominids processed meat-bearing bones (in which flesh was abundant) and not defleshed carcasses from felid kills. This work constitutes a reference that can also be used for later Pleistocene sites and adds a further dimension to the hunting-versus-scavenging debate.

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Domínguez-Rodrigo, M. Testing meat-eating in early hominids: an analysis of butchery marks on defleshed carcases. Hum. Evol. 12, 169–182 (1997). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02438066

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Key words

  • Meat-eating
  • cut marks upper/lower limb bones
  • mid-shaft
  • proximal/distal shafts
  • lions