Scientists found evidence that our Palaeolithic ancestors were once cannibals.
The remains were found in Gough's Cave in Somerset among the bones of large butchered animals and artifacts made from materials such as bone, antler, and ivory, the Natural History Museum reported. The findings suggest a "sophisticated" culture of butchering and carving human remains.
Radiocarbon dating techniques revealed the remains were deposited over a short period of time about 14,700 years ago.
"The human remains have been the subject of several studies. In a previous analysis, we could determine that the cranial remains had been carefully modified to make skull-cups. During this research, however, we've identified a far greater degree of human modification than recorded in earlier. We've found undoubting evidence for defleshing, disarticulation, human chewing, crushing of spongy bone, and the cracking of bones to extract marrow," said Silvia Bello, from the Natural History Museum's Department of Earth Sciences.
The human tooth marks on the bones strongly suggest cannibalistic practices occurred during the "Magdalenian period," and may have even been performed ritualistically.
"A recurring theme of this period is the remarkable rarity of burials and how commonly we find human remains mixed with occupation waste at many sites. Further analysis along the lines used to study Gough's Cave will help to establish whether the type of ritualistic cannibalism practiced there is a regional ('Creswellian') phenomenon, or a more widespread practice found throughout the Magdalenian world," said Simon Parfitt, of University College London.
The findings were published in a recent edition of the Journal of Human Evolution.