Did a Neanderthal child get eaten by a giant bird?
Kids might have it rough today, but at least they don’t have to worry about getting eaten by a giant bird! New findings by paleontologists suggest a Neanderthal child was either eaten by a bird, either by attacking the child or scavenging its remains. What’s surprising is that this isn’t the first time this has happened.
Attack of the birds
A bevy of bones was found deep in Poland’s Ciemna Cave, some animal, and some human. Two lone phalanges were discovered, with holes that prove they went through the digestive system of some kind of monstrous bird. Analysis shows that the finger came from a poor Neanderthal child who was somewhere between five and seven years old.
The bones are so old, it’s impossible to determine whether the child was scooped up and eaten by the bird, or if it was already dead and the bird was picking at the remains. However, other similar findings suggest that the former could be true.
This isn’t the first time
While the discovery in Poland is mind-boggling, it isn’t the first example of historic predatory birds. Another child’s remains were found in 1924 in the Republic of Africa that had puncture marks below its eye sockets.
The holes remarkably resembled those of an eagle’s talons, showing that young children probably resembled small animals to these large birds of prey, making them unfortunate victims to hungry fowl that needed to feed their feathered families.
But what birds could do this
It’s known that the African crowned eagle that exists today is known to attack and feed on large monkeys that are roughly the same size as a young child. There are also many legends across cultures of giant eagles snatching and gobbling up children, like the Te Hokioi in Maori stories.
In fact, CT scans of New Zealand’s extinct Haast eagle showed it did have talons that could pierce a human pelvis! Luckily, these bird attacks aren’t as common today but maybe keep your kid indoors if you see a large shadow overhead, just in case.