Prehistoric humans living in a cave of Israel between 420,000 and 200,000 years ago have been storing bone marrow so they could eat it at a later time, scientists have found. This reveals early hominins understood that food won’t be available in the future and had the foresight to do something about it.
The Qesem Cave, which is about 7.5 miles from Tel Aviv, was recognized as a site of early human occupation almost 20 years when road construction reduce by it. Since then, a vast amount of archaeological proof has been unearthed, including tens of thousands of animal bones that have been processed by human ancestors.
Researchers led by Ruth Blasco, from Spain’s National Research Centre on Human Evolution, have now analyzed these bones and carried out experiments on them to show how these occupants had discovered to effectively store the bone marrow for weeks and months after the animal had died.
Which hominin species the group to which modern people belong was processing the bones in this way isn’t identified. However, Blasco stated that whoever they were, they demonstrated many advanced behaviors, including regular use of fire, recycling, and food roasting. The deferred consumption of bone marrow is now another task to add to that list.
Bone marrow, the tissue found inside some bones, is high in nutritious, being higher in calories than protein or carbohydrates. As a result, it might have been a valued and vital food source for early humans. Some research even suggests that the process of extracting it has shaped our evolution.
After analyzing the remains of almost 82,000 animal bones from the site, the team was capable of show that bone marrow was being preserved for consumption at a later date. Old, dry flesh and skin are harder to remove from a bone than when it’s fresh. As a result, removing it leaves behind particular sawing marks.
In experiments, researchers showed that these marks might be replicated by removing the skin after two or more weeks. Additionally, they discovered skin removal increased after four weeks. This, the team believes, is proof of deferred consumption of the marrow. Their experiments furthermore show that the nutritional value of bone marrow begins to deteriorate from around six weeks after the animal’s death, Blasco mentioned.