Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

'Inhabitants of Madrid' ate elephants’ meat and bone marrow 80,000 years ago

Date:
April 24, 2012
Source:
Plataforma SINC
Summary:
Humans that populated the banks of the river Manzanares during the Middle Palaeolithic fed themselves on pachyderm meat and bone marrow. This is what a new study shows and has found percussion and cut marks on elephant remains in the site of Preresa.

Researchers have found cut and percussion marks in elephant bones in the site of Preresa.
Credit: Joaquín Panera

Humans that populated the banks of the river Manzanares (Madrid, Spain) during the Middle Palaeolithic (between 127,000 and 40,000 years ago) fed themselves on pachyderm meat and bone marrow. This is what a Spanish study shows and has found percussion and cut marks on elephant remains in the site of Preresa (Madrid).

In prehistoric times, hunting animals implied a risk and required a considerable amount of energy. Therefore, when the people of the Middle Palaeolithic (between 127,000 and 40,000 years ago) had an elephant in the larder, they did not leave a scrap.

Humans that populated the Madrid region 84,000 years ago fed themselves on these prosbocideans' meat and they consumed their bone marrow, according to this new study. Until now, the scientific community doubted that consuming elephant meat was a common practice in that era due to the lack of direct evidence on the bones. It is still to be determined whether they are from the Mammuthus species of the Palaleoloxodon subspecies.

The researchers found bones with cut marks, made for consuming the meat, and percussion for obtaining the bone marrow. "There are many sites, but few with fossil remains with marks that demonstrate humans' purpose" Jose Yravedra, researcher at the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM) and lead author of the study published in the Journal of Archaeological Science said.

This is the first time that percussion marks that showed an intentional bone fracture to get to the edible part inside have been documented. These had always been associated with tool manufacturing but in the remains found, this hypothesis was discarded. The tools found in the same area were made of flint and quartzite.

The team, made up of archaeologists, zooarchaeologists and geologists from UCM, the Institute of Human Evolution in Africa (IDEA) in Madrid and the Spanish National Research Centre for Human Evolution (CENIEH) in Burgos, collected 82 bones from one elephant, linked to 754 stone tools, in an area of 255 metres squared, in the site of Preresa, on the banks of the river Manzanares.

In the case of the cut marks on the fossil remains, these add to the "oldest evidence of exploiting elephants" in the site of Áridos, close to the river Jarama, according to another study published by Yravedra in the same journal. "There are few records about the exploitation of elephants in Siberia, North America and central Europe," the zooarchaeologist explains.

The risk of hunting an elephant

The internal organs were what the predator ate first, be they human or any kind of carnivore. The prehistoric signs of the banquet help researchers to find out who was the first to sit down at the table, as the risk of hunting an elephant posed the question as to whether humans hunted it or were scavengers.

"This is the next mystery to be solved" Yravedra replies, who reminds us that there is evidence of hunting in other smaller animals in the same site. However, due to the thickness of fibrous membranes and other elephant meat tissues, humans did not always leave marks on the bones. "And for this reason, sometimes it is difficult to determine if humans used their meat."

The 'Holy Grail' of Palaeolithic diet

Animal fat was highly valued by hunters and gatherers that had a diet rich in meat and low in carbohydrates. When there was little meat, other resources such as bone marrow became a source of lipids.

According to the study, this practice was not very common due to the difficulty of extracting the marrow from the bones. Furthermore "exploiting the fat is something that has not been reported until now" the researcher says. Other food sources, such as brains, had the same nutritional benefits.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Plataforma SINC. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. J. Yravedra, S. Rubio-Jara, J. Panera, D. Uribelarrea, A. Pérez-González. Elephants and subsistence. Evidence of the human exploitation of extremely large mammal bones from the Middle Palaeolithic site of PRERESA (Madrid, Spain). Journal of Archaeological Science, 2012; 39 (4): 1063 DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2011.12.004

Cite This Page:

Plataforma SINC. "'Inhabitants of Madrid' ate elephants’ meat and bone marrow 80,000 years ago." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 April 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120424121740.htm>.
Plataforma SINC. (2012, April 24). 'Inhabitants of Madrid' ate elephants’ meat and bone marrow 80,000 years ago. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120424121740.htm
Plataforma SINC. "'Inhabitants of Madrid' ate elephants’ meat and bone marrow 80,000 years ago." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120424121740.htm (accessed October 22, 2014).

Share This



More Fossils & Ruins News

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Turns Out Jack The Ripper's True Identity Is Still Unknown

Turns Out Jack The Ripper's True Identity Is Still Unknown

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) — After testing DNA from a shawl found near one of Jack the Ripper's victims, a scientist said he'd identified the killer. New reports refute the claim. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Fish Fossil Shows First-Ever Sex Was Done Side By Side

Fish Fossil Shows First-Ever Sex Was Done Side By Side

Newsy (Oct. 19, 2014) — A 380-million-year-old fish may be the first creature to have copulative sex - and it was side by side with arms linked, like square dancers. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
As Sweden Hunts For Sub, "Cold War" Comparisons Flourish

As Sweden Hunts For Sub, "Cold War" Comparisons Flourish

Newsy (Oct. 19, 2014) — With Sweden on the look-out for a suspected Russian sub, a lot of people are talking about the Cold War, but is it an apt comparison? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
So, Kangaroos Didn't Always Hop

So, Kangaroos Didn't Always Hop

Newsy (Oct. 16, 2014) — Researchers believe an extinct kangaroo species weighed 500 pounds or more and couldn't hop. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins