Early cavemen in Europe ate human meat as part of their everyday diet, new research suggests.

  A new study of fossil bones in Spain shows that cannibalism was a normal part of daily life around 800,000 years ago among Europe’s first humans.

  Bones from the cave, called Gran Dolina, show signs of cuts and other marks which will have been made by early stone tools.

  Among the bones of bison, deer, wild sheep and other animals, scientists discovered the butchered remains of at least 11 human children and adolescents.

  The bones also displayed signs of having been smashed to get the nutritious marrow inside and there was evidence that the victims’brains may also have been eaten.

  Striek marks on the bone at the base of the skull also indicated that the humans had been decapitated according to the study’s co-author Jose Maria Bermudez de Castro.

  Bermudez de Castro, of the National Research Center on Human Evolution in Burgos, Spain, told National Geographic: Probably then they cut the skull for extracting the brain The brain is good for food.

  Scientists believe that early man ate fellow humans both to fulfill his nutritional needs and to kill off neighbouring enemy tribes.

  Bones of humans that had been eaten spanned a period of around hundred thousand years, indicating that the practice was not just confined to time when food was scare.

  Because human and animal remains were tossed away together, the researchers speculate that cannibalism had no special ritual role linked to religious beliefs.

  Bermudez de Castro said that the area surrounding the caves would have been a rich source of food so there would have been little need to turn to cannibalism as a last resort.

  Instead the practice was probably more widely used as a way of dealing with competition from neighbouring tribes.

  Children will have been targeted as they would have less capable of defending themselves, the study suggests.










    自格蘭多利納洞穴(Gran Dolina)出土的骨頭上,有早期石器切割與作記號的跡象。 在野牛、鹿隻與野綿羊的骨頭堆中,科學家發現至少11具人類小孩與成人遭屠殺的殘骸。這些骨頭也有被敲碎、以取得營養骨髓的跡象。有證據顯示,這些受害者的大腦都被吃掉。


    據作者之一卡斯楚(Jose Maria Bermudez deCastro)研究,頭顱底部的條紋刻紋,顯示這些人曾經被斬首。


    擔任西班牙「國家人類進化研究中心」(NationalResearch Center on Human Evolution)研究人員的卡斯楚告訴「國家地理」(National Geographic)雜誌:「也許他們當時是為了人腦才砍頭。人腦是相當好的食物。」


    科學家相信,早期人類吃掉同類,是為了滿足營養所需,也是藉此殺掉鄰近的敵人部落。 被吃掉的人類骨頭年代,延續數十萬年,表示這種行為並不侷限於食物匱乏的時期。


    人骨與其他動物骨頭被丟棄在一起的情況,顯示這種行為沒有宗教意義。 由於人類與動物殘骸被丟在一起,研究人員推測,同類相食的行為不具宗教意義。


    卡斯楚又說,格蘭多利納洞穴附近區域食物資源豐富,所以他們不太需要以吃掉同類作為最後選擇。 反之,這種行為可能被廣泛用來解決與鄰近部落競爭的方式。


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