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J Hum Evol. 1997 Dec;33(6):669-90.

Meat-eating by early hominids at the FLK 22 Zinjanthropus site, Olduvai Gorge (Tanzania): an experimental approach using cut-mark data.

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Departamento de Prehistoria, Facultad de Geografia e Historia, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain.


The meat-eating behavior of Plio-Pleistocene hominids, responsible for the bone accumulations at the earliest archaeological sites, is still a hotly-debated issue in paleoanthropology. In particular, meat-eating and bone marrow consumption are often presented as either complementary or opposing strategies of carcass exploitation. The presence of cut marks on fossil archeofauna is a potential source of information that has not been consistently used as evidence of carcass consumption by hominids. Some authors interpret cut marks as the result of hominids manipulating meat-bearing bones, while others argue that they can also be the result of hominids extracting marginal scraps of carcass flesh that have survived carnivores' initial consumption. In this study, a referential framework concerning the interpretation of cut marks is presented, based on a set of experiments conducted by the author. It is suggested, according to these experiments and data drawn from the FLK "Zinj" site, that hominids processed meat-bearing bones (on which flesh was abundant) rather than defleshed carcasses from felid kills.

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