Notable: Chimpanzee butchery to study ancient cannibalism

Notable paper: Saladié P, Cáceres I, Huguet R, Rodríguez-Hidalgo A, Santander B, et al. (2015) Experimental Butchering of a Chimpanzee Carcass for Archaeological Purposes. PLoS ONE 10(3): e0121208. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0121208

Synopsis: Palmira Saladié and colleagues butchered a dead chimpanzee to study the traces of cutmarks and marrow removal that might characterize cannibalism on Paleolithic human remains. They found that the resulting bone traces were similar to those found in the hominin remains from Gran Dolina, Spain—an early Middle Pleistocene site at which cannibalism has been suggested. And only a minority of the bone fragments from the butchered chimp bore the distinctive traces of human modification.

Interesting because: They butchered a chimpanzee carcass with stone tools!

But… As far as experimental archaeology goes, a single specimen is not really a sufficient sample for comparison with ancient remains. But it is a rare opportunity to treat the remains of a hominoid in this way, and I’m glad they described the results. Maybe further work with human cadavers will become possible to replicate these patterns with larger samples.