Fri. May 27th, 2022


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Remains found of man whose hand was bitten off by shark 3,000 years ago

3 min read

The skeletal remains of a pre-historic man who suffered a horrific shark attack 3,000 years ago have been found.

Scientists discovered the remains of a man who was most likely alive during the ordeal, and his left hand was sheared off in the attack.

The find revealed the adult male suffered at least 790 deep serrated injuries after being ambushed in the Seto Inland Sea of the Japanese archipelago, according to reports in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

His remains have been dated back to between 1370 to 1010BC, according to an international team of scientists.

His body is believed to be the earliest direct evidence for a shark attack on a human following a combination of archaeological science and forensic techniques.

Oxford University researchers, J Alyssa White and Professor Rick Schulting, were scouting for evidence of violence trauma on the skeletal remains of prehistoric hunter-gatherers at Kyoto University when they made the find.

The shark attack victim, now identified simply as No 24, was discovered at the previously excavated site of Tsukumo.

The Oxford researchers said in a statement: "We were initially flummoxed by what could have caused at least 790 deep, serrated injuries to this man.

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"There were so many injuries and yet he was buried in the community burial ground, the Tsukumo Shell-mound cemetery site."

They added: "The injuries were mainly confined to the arms, legs, and front of the chest and abdomen. Through a process of elimination, we ruled out human conflict and more commonly-reported animal predators or scavengers."

Archaeological cases of shark attacks are extremely rare, therefore the scientists worked with expert George Burgess, director emeritus of the Florida Program for Shark Research to put together a reconstruction of the attack.

The placements of his wounds strongly suggests he was alive at the time of the horrifying ordeal, they concluded.

They say his left hand was shared off as he possibly attempted to defend himself.

His right leg was missing and his left leg was placed on top of his body in an inverted position, excavation records state.

The body was soon recovered after the incident and buried with his people at the cemetery, the report adds.

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The scientists also believe he may have been fishing with companions at the time.

Based on the distribution of the tooth marks, a tiger or white shark may have been responsible for his death.

Dr Mark Hudson, who co-authored the paper, said it is not clear if the victim was deliberately looking for sharks or if the creature was attracted by blood or bait from other fish.

He said: "Either way, this find not only provides a new perspective on ancient Japan, but is also a rare example of archaeologists being able to reconstruct a dramatic episode in the life of a prehistoric community."

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