Butchered by early humans or eaten by crocodiles? Image: David DeGusta

7 thoughts on “Butchered by early humans or eaten by crocodiles? Image: David DeGusta

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  1. Seems by appearance of the striations on the left, precision is prevalent. Yet, there is confusing evidence of any designated “puncture points” for these markings. The markings on the right seem to show rounded edges, which is not an exact characteristic of stone tool punctures. A sort of miscellaneous pattern would create assumption the markings on the right were not intelligently formed, revealing a mechanism of learning was still in place. So might the question be, who was smarter this day and age, the Croc or the Australopithecine? Or, are the markings on the right just worn and eroded enough over 3.39my that they appear without precision? And the reason the markings on the left are still precise may be because that are not old punctures after all, or that whatever created the marking was fast enough and sharp enough to slice smoothly?

  2. Skepticism is always welcome, especially in paleoanthro, but there are other expert opinions out there about this worth considering. You seem to be following Tim White’s mostly media angle on this subject via his surrogate and former student, David DeGusta (former Prof, cough, cough). Nothing wrong with that, of course, but Greg Laden also thinks they look like cut marks. He’s examined a few. David isn’t so sure. OK, and I realize that appeals to authority bug some folks, but the fact that C. Marean is a co-author on the paper adds credibility IMO — a lot of credibility.

    The images are not the same, as you acknowledge, and as Amy notes, but her query and commentary raise good points worth pursuing.

    I’m amazed that some people thinks this necessarily implies organized HUNTING by australopiths. Scavenging, any one?

  3. The notes say that the markings on the right are from a modern experiment, so they aren’t old enough to have been eroded down.

  4. Athena, if the older possible cut marks are eroded down, they they are useless as indicators of stone tool use. Age does not mean eroded …. bone surfaces are often very well preserved.

    Having said that, it is not that hard to distinguish between an assemblage of bone munched by a carnivore and cutmakrs. To me, the question needs to be settled by excavating the site and examining all the marks on a couple of hundred bone frags, to see if there is a pattern of, say, croc munching that happens to include a few cut marky looking things.

  5. I have not read the complete article in Nature so take my opinions as such. If the article is implying that this is evidence of tools used for hunting then it would be a stretch. But as occamseraser mentioned in his post “scavenging”. I would think is the correct assumption. I see a big difference in the two types of photos shown. Amy Theresa in her post see’s what I see; definite precision “tool like” marks. Evidence of modern Chimpanzee’s use of tools, and ability to even invent new tools (not just learn tool use from adults), opens the door in my opinion to tool use going 100,000’s of years earlier then commonly accepted for our most ancient ancestors.

  6. The modern results show radiused smooth initial formation and departure grooves, whereas the ancient results demonstrate an initial sharpness of cut and depth that would be unachievable by a crocodile tooth of the size required.
    By the time a crocodile had the bite strength and tooth size to create the kind of impression shown the teeth would be too rounded to replicate the fossil find.
    That is not to say that another animal could not have been responsible for the grooves….

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