Scientists Find Remains of Neanderthal Child Devoured by Giant Bird

Tuesday, 09 October 2018 - 1:27PM
Earth
Tuesday, 09 October 2018 - 1:27PM
Scientists Find Remains of Neanderthal Child Devoured by Giant Bird
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It sounds like the kind of story you tell to scare small children today: "If you're a naughty child, a giant bird will come and eat you, just like that Neanderthal child in Poland!" Though, to be honest, it's unclear whether the child was living when the bird ate its bones or if the bird just scavenged bits from the corpse. Either way, researchers only found the finger bones of the child, though that may actually make the story more horrifying if you think about it.

The discovery was made by archaeologists from Jagiellonian University in Krakow, who were exploring Cave Ciemna, a cave network in the Polish town of Ojcow. The cave has yielded many Neanderthal artifacts in the past, including stone tools. According to Paweł Valde-Nowak, one of the archaeologists: "We have no doubts that these are Neanderthal remains, because they come from a very deep layer of the cave, a few meters below the present surface. This layer also contains typical stone tools used by the Neanderthal."

The bones, which were only a few centimeters long, were found to contain many tiny holes, which Valde-Nowak says is the result of having passed through "the digestive system of a large bird." The remains are estimated to be roughly 115,000 years old, and are the oldest remains found so far in Poland. Neanderthals are estimated to have entered Poland around 300,000 years ago. If you're wondering just how big this human-eating bird might have been, consider that the Aiolornis incredibilis, which co-existed with humans, had a wingspan of about 16 feet and was considered a pretty active predator.

This isn't the first grisly, hand-related discovery archaeologists have made, either—a Longobardi warrior who had replaced his missing hand with a knife was recently discovered, as was a Civil War-era "limb pit" used to dump amputated arms and legs.
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