Prehistoric giant elephant unlocks mysteries of ancient hunters

Daily Echo: Straight-tusked elephant. Picture by DFoidl Straight-tusked elephant. Picture by DFoidl

A PRE-HISTORIC elephant has revealed clues of what life was like for early humans and how it met its end.

University of Southampton lecturer and archaeologist Dr Francis Wenban-Smith discovered remains and has spent the last ten years studying the creature.

Now he has published a book that will teach other archaeologists about life for people that existed thousands of years before Neanderthals.

The extinct straight-tusked elephant was found in Ebbsfleet in Kent, below, while construction workers were preparing the build the High Speed 1 rail link between the Channel Tunnel and London.

Daily Echo:

The species was twice the size of today’s African elephant and almost four times the weight of a family car.

The 420,000-year-old remains were buried along with other creatures, including prehistoric ancestors to cattle and extinct forms of rhinoceros and lions.

It was also found surrounded by flint tools used to cut meat from carcasses, which have lead Dr Wenban-Smith to believe early humans may have eaten and possibly hunted the creature in a group.

Daily Echo:

Dr Wenban-Smith, pictured below, said: “The key evidence for elephant hunting is that, of the few prehistoric butchered elephant carcasses that have been found across Europe, they are almost all large males in their prime, a pattern that does not suggest natural death and scavenging.

“Although it seems incredible that they could have killed such an animal, it must have been possible with wooden spears.

“Rich fossilised remains surrounding the elephant skeleton, including pollen, snails and a wide variety of vertebrates, provide a remarkable record of the climate and environment the early humans inhabited.

Daily Echo:

“Analysis of these deposits show they lived at a time of peak interglacial warmth, when the Ebbsfleet Valley was a lush, densely wooded tributary of the Thames, containing a quiet, almost stagnant swamp.”

Comments (3)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

1:48pm Sun 22 Sep 13

southy says...

"life for people that existed thousands of years before Neanderthals"
Before Neanderthals, don't they mean during the early Neanderthals era
"life for people that existed thousands of years before Neanderthals" Before Neanderthals, don't they mean during the early Neanderthals era southy
  • Score: -2

4:45pm Sun 22 Sep 13

freefinker says...

southy wrote:
"life for people that existed thousands of years before Neanderthals"
Before Neanderthals, don't they mean during the early Neanderthals era
Nope, 420,000 years ago is before the Neanderthals; generally regarded as having their origins some 200,000 to 300,000 years ago. Although I must say the grading between H. heidelbergensis and H. neanderthalensis is such that you can't come up with a definitive date.
[quote][p][bold]southy[/bold] wrote: "life for people that existed thousands of years before Neanderthals" Before Neanderthals, don't they mean during the early Neanderthals era[/p][/quote]Nope, 420,000 years ago is before the Neanderthals; generally regarded as having their origins some 200,000 to 300,000 years ago. Although I must say the grading between H. heidelbergensis and H. neanderthalensis is such that you can't come up with a definitive date. freefinker
  • Score: 1

3:35am Mon 23 Sep 13

Someone_New says...

I think it's probably a bit of a stretch to call a different species from those times "people". Although I will say what someone was bound to say, which is that some of the "people" on here seem to exhibit a lot of Neanderthal characteristics.
I think it's probably a bit of a stretch to call a different species from those times "people". Although I will say what someone was bound to say, which is that some of the "people" on here seem to exhibit a lot of Neanderthal characteristics. Someone_New
  • Score: 0

Comments are closed on this article.

click2find

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree