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Ancient hominid butchers get trampled

Tool-aided carnivory by Lucy’s kind challenged

Put that stone down, Lucy, and back away from the antelope tartare.

Marks on two fossil bones, recently presented as evidence that Lucy’s ancient hominid species butchered animals for meat, likely resulted from animal trampling, say anthropologist Manuel Dominguez-Rodrigo of Complutense University of Madrid and his colleagues.

Scientists excavating Ethiopia’s Dikika research area unearthed a pair of 3.4-million-year-old animal bones that, in their view, bear incisions created as Lucy’s kind, Australopithecus afarensis, sliced meat off carcasses with sharp stones found on the landscape (SN: 9/11/10, p. 8). That precedes what had been the earliest butchery marks on animal fossils by about 800,000 years (SN: 4/24/99, p. 262).

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