The late Early Pleistocene site of Untermassfeld has recently yielded stone artefacts attesting hominin occupation. Now, we report here, for the first time, evidence of hominin butchery such as cut marks and intentional hammerstone-related bone breakage. This probable subsistence behaviour was detected in a small animal subsample recovered from levels with early stone tools.
The frequent occurrence of butchery traces on bones of large-sized herd animals (i.e., Bison) may imply a greater need for meat in seasonal habitats characterised by a depletion of nutritive plants in winter. Early access to carcasses, before their consumption by carnivores, provided hominins with sufficient quantities of meat.
Stone tools and animal remains with signs of butchery recovered at Untermassfeld are evidence of the oldest hominin settlement at continental mid-latitudes (50° N).
Journal of Human EvolutionVolume 94, May 2016, Pages 53–71