In Olden Days, They Relished Brains

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A new study of fossil bones in Spain shows that cannibalism was habitual among Western Europe’s earliest human species, Homo Antecessor, around 800,000 years ago. The bones, collected since 1994, reveal that ‘gastronomic cannibalism’ was commonplace—both to meet nutritional needs and to get rid of local competition—according to the study, published in Current Anthropology. 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 displayed signs of having been smashed to get to the nutritious marrow inside, and there was evidence that their brains may also have been eaten. Cuts and strikes on the temporal bone at the base of the skulls indicate decapitation, according to Bermúdez de Castro of the National Research Center on Human Evolution in Burgos, Spain. “Probably then they cut the skull for extracting the brain,” he told the National Geographic Society.