SALT LAKE CITY ― The story behind Poland's oldest human remains is a little hard to swallow.
Scientists recently identified fossils found in Poland a few years ago as the remains of a human child who was apparently eaten by a giant bird.
According to CNN, because the child’s remains were found among animal bones, it wasn’t until this year when researchers could do a lab analysis, which found some of the bones were identified as human.
The bones were recognized as phalanges, which are digital bones of a human hand.
Two anthropologists, Anita Szczepanek from Jagiellonian University in Krakow and Erik Trinkaus from Washington University in St. Louis, both confirmed that the bones belong to a neanderthal.
“The bones our team discovered in Cave Ciemna are the oldest human remains from the area of today’s Poland, they are about 115,000 years old" professor Paweł Valde-Nowak, a researcher from the Institute of Archeology of the Jagiellonian University, reportedly told Science Poland.
The porous surface of the bones came as a result of passing through the digestive system of a large bird. According to Science Poland, it's still unknown whether the bird attacked and partially consumed the young child, or fed on the child when it was already deceased.
The bones, which are no more than a centimeter long, are poorly preserved, making it impossible to perform a full DNA analysis.
But Valde-Nowak said that the lack of a DNA analysis does not prevent scientists from feeling confident about their discovery.7 comments on this story
“[We] have no doubts that these are Neanderthal remains, because they come from a very deep layer of the cave, a few meters below the present surface. This layer also contains typical stone tools used by the Neanderthal," he said.
The Smithsonian reported that prior to this, the oldest known human remains found in Poland were three Neanderthal molars dating to 42,000 to 52,000 years ago, making the 115,000-year-old fingers a significant discovery.
The findings will be published this year in the Journal of Paleolithic Archaeology.