A few years ago, some researchers discovered the oldest human remains from Poland, without actually realizing what they came across. The scientists were not aware of the fact that the bones were human, since they were found amongst animal bones. Only this year it was determined that these bones are in fact 115,000 years old. They belonged to a Neanderthal child whose age was between 5 to 7 years old. The remains that were stumbled on are two tiny phalanges – digital bones of the hand, with a length of approximately 1 centimeter.
A very important discovery
According to Science in Poland, the researchers found out that the bones were human during a lab analysis that took place this year. The findings were confirmed by two anthropologists, Erik Trinkaus from Washington University in St. Louis and Anita Szczepanek from the Jagiellonian University in Kraków. According to the researchers, a very significant detail was the fact that the bones belonging to the young Neanderthal were covered with dozens of holes, which created a porous surface. Paweł Valde-Nowak, who is a team researcher and a professor at the Jagiellonian University’s Institute of Archeology, stated that based on the analyses that they did, the results show that the state of the bones is an evidence of them having passed through the digestive system of a big bird. He also added that this is “the first such known example from the Ice Age”.
Oldest human remains to have been found in Poland
At the moment, the researchers think that the bird might have either attacked and consumed the child to a certain extent, or it fed off the child after he died. The team does not know yet which variant is true. Also, since the bones have not been preserved too well, the possibility of a DNA analysis is not an option. Before this discovery, the oldest human remains that were uncovered in Poland were three Neanderthal molars, which are believed to be approximately 52,000 years old.
The phalanges were found in the Ciemna Cave, where for decades there have been excavations. Together with some stone tools that belonged to Neanderthals, the bones were discovered about 9 feet below the current surface, in a deep layer. We do not know for sure if these bones ended up in this cave as a result of the Neanderthals having lived there or if they used the place seasonally. These findings will be published in the Journal of Paleolithic Archaeology later this year.