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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Homo ergaster had elephant in the menu

Mundo Neandertal
[es], citing newspaper Público[es], mentions today that Spanish researchers (a branch of the Atapuerca team) working in Olduvai gorge have found elephant bones with cut marks (sign of human meal) in association with bones of Homo ergaster, the ancestor of our species, dated some 1.3 million years ago.

Femur and radius of H. ergaster found at Olduvai

This quite clearly tells that, at least occasionally, our ancestors did feast on elephant meat. Whether they hunted the huge animal themselves or just found a recently dead one is another story.

Remains of Sivatherium, another large animal, a relative of modern giraffes, have also been found in the same circumstances.

Sivatherium reconstruction

The Homo ergaster bones are potentially very informative because, unlike what happens with Neanderthals and their ancestors (H. antecessor and H. heidelbergensis), very little is known of this human branch leading to us. Most of the information we have on how was H. ergaster is derived from a single individual, the 13 years old Turkana boy, who died by the infection caused by a rotten tooth, and who is believed would have reached 1.85 m. of height as adult, reaching 1.60 m. when he died.

However this extrapolation may perfectly be wrong. In my family at least, the height you have at 14 is almost the same you have for life (I have only grown 1 cm. or so since that age and is the same case with most of my relatives and probably many other people).

In any case these new findings should be of great help in understanding a little better the anatomy of the ancestral species.

1 comment:

Anne Gilbert said...

Now why am I not surprised by this? Homo ergaster/erectus/heidelbergensis etc, all seem to have been quite competent at doing what they needed to do, given what they had t work with, both mentally(brain development) and environmentally