Ancient China

100,000 year old human remains found in China 'may show evidence of cannibalism'

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 July, 2015, 5:42pm
UPDATED : Friday, 05 August, 2016, 4:58pm

Mainland Chinese researchers have found two pieces of thigh bone from an early human child who lived 100,000 years ago which may show evidence of cannibalism, the Guangming Daily reported.

The bones are believed to have belonged to the so-called "Xuchang man", an extinct species of early human with possible links to modern day Chinese, first discovered at a site 15 kilometres from Xuchang city in Henan province.

There are “signs of biting and gnawing” on the bones, which belonged to a young Xuchang man, lead archeologist Li Zhanyang told the newspaper.

Li said that the marks could have been left by carnivorous animals, but “the possibility of fellow hominids eating nutritious content from the bones could not be ruled out".

Evidence of cannibalism has been found by scientists studying the remains of ancient humans throughout the globe, including early Homo sapiens specimens. 

A skull of Xuchang man was discovered in 2007 and prompted great interest. It was hailed by some scientists as the greatest discovery in China since the Peking man and Upper cave man skull fossils were found in Beijing early last century, because the appearance of Xuchang man filled a missing gap in the evolution history of humans in China.

The Peking man is believed to have lived between 250 to 500 thousand years ago, but the fossil record of the progression from this ancient ancestor to modern humans had remained very much blank before the discovery of the Xuchang man.

"This is a crucial period in human evolutionary history, but we know almost nothing about it. Anything coming from that period is of great interest to the outside world," Dennis Etler, a palaeoanthropologist at Cabrillo College, California, told the Guardian following the 2007 discovery.