Fossil remains unearthed in Kent, South East England, suggest that early humans that inhabited the area some 420,000 years ago were well equipped to take on and kill prehistoric elephants.
Researchers say that, all things considered, the beasts they tackled were twice as big as the elephants presently living in Africa. Furthermore, they probably weighed four times more than a family car.
Since using guns to kill elephants was pretty much out of the question thousands of years ago, specialists believe that early humans chiefly relied on wooden spears in order to bring down these large herbivores. Besides, they must have organized hunting parties.
Scientists at the University of Southampton explain that, for the time being at least, there is no bullet-proof evidence that early humans did in fact work together to hunt and slaughter prehistoric elephants and other similar animals.
However, analysis of both the elephant remains unearthed in Kent and of others discovered in various parts of Europe indicate that, shortly after their death, these animals were butchered for their meat.
Given the fact that these elephants were all males in their prime, it is unlikely that the hominids merely stumbled upon their carcasses and decided to feast on them.
“Although there is no direct evidence of how this particular animal met its end, the discovery of flint tools close to the carcass confirm butchery for its meat, probably by a group of at least four individuals,” Dr Wenban-Smith argues, as cited by The Alpha Galileo Foundation.
“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,” the researcher adds.