Humans hunted prehistoric elephants over 400,000 years ago
|September 20, 2013||Posted by News under Human evolution, News|
Research by a University of Southampton archaeologist suggests that early humans, who lived thousands of years before Neanderthals, were able to work together in groups to hunt and slaughter animals as large as the prehistoric elephant.
Excavation revealed a deep sequence of deposits containing the elephant remains, along with numerous flint tools and a range of other species such as; wild aurochs, extinct forms of rhinoceros and lion, Barbary macaque, beaver, rabbit, various forms of vole and shrew, and a diverse assemblage of snails. These remains confirm that the deposits date to a warm period of climate around 420,000 years ago, the so-called Hoxnian interglacial, when the climate was probably slightly warmer than the present day.
It makes sense that they ate snails as well. Large kills were probably few and far between, so the survival of a hunter-gatherer culture depends in large part on gathering.
Since the excavation, which took place in 2004, Francis has been carrying out a detailed analysis of evidence recovered from the site, including 80 undisturbed flint artefacts found scattered around the elephant carcass and used to butcher it. The pre-historic elephant was twice the size of today’s African variety and up to four times the weight of family car.
They must also have known how to dry meat in order to store it and how to keep the cache from predators. Otherwise, most of the work invested in the eighty flints, and doubtless many others which were taken away instead of discarded, would be wasted. New finds surely await.