Send to

Choose Destination
J Hum Evol. 2006 Feb;50(2):170-94. Epub 2006 Jan 4.

New estimates of tooth mark and percussion mark frequencies at the FLK Zinj site: the carnivore-hominid-carnivore hypothesis falsified.

Author information

Departamento de Prehistoria, Universidad Complutense, 28040, Madrid, Spain.


Traditional interpretations of hominid carcass acquisition strategies revolve around the debate over whether early hominids hunted or scavenged. A popular version of the scavenging scenario is the carnivore-hominid-carnivore hypothesis, which argues that hominids acquired animal resources primarily through passive opportunistic scavenging from felid-defleshed carcasses. Its main empirical support comes from the analysis of tooth mark frequency and distribution at the FLK Zinj site reported by Blumenschine (Blumenschine, 1995, J. Hum. Evol. 29, 21-51), in which it was shown that long bone mid-shafts exhibited a high frequency of tooth marks, only explainable if felids had preceded hominids in carcass defleshing. The present work shows that previous estimates of tooth marks on the FLK Zinj assemblage were artificially high, since natural biochemical marks were mistaken for tooth marks. Revised estimates are similar to those obtained in experiments in which hyenas intervene after humans in bone modification. Furthermore, analyses of percussion marks, notches, and breakage patterns provide data which are best interpreted as the results of hominid activity (hammerstone percussion and marrow extraction), based on experimentally-derived referential frameworks. These multiple lines of evidence support previous analyses of cut marks and their anatomical distribution; all indicate that hominids had early access to fleshed carcasses that were transported, processed, and accumulated at the FLK Zinj site.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center