Ice Age people feasted on wolven meat: Polish scientists

It is an established fact that around 30,000 people of Europe were vying against wolves for food but that wolves themselves “ended up on human’s skewers” is a novelty resulting from Polish archeozoologists’ discovery of cuts and sharp marks left on the feral creatures’ bones.

The new conclusions regarding the role of wolves in the life of palaeolithic hunters are an outcome of yearslong research carried out in Pavlov and Dolní Věstonice, southern Czech Republic, where the first human seasonal settlements were erected.

Being in charge of the research, Piotr Wojtal of the Institute of Systematics and Evolution of Animals of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Kraków says that the recent discovery overturns the to-date understanding of the palaeolithic wolven-human relations.

“Until now scientists were convinced that wolves and other predators had been hunted primarily for their leather but definitely not for their meat. Meanwhile, the analysis of wolven bones we chanced upon several dozen of, demonstrates clear cuts,” said Mr Wojtal, adding that “some were left by huntsmen during skinning but others can be associated only with meat cutting and portioning.”

Mr Wojtal, who conducted the research together with Jarosław Wilczyński, added that there were marks of deboning left on the bones.

Although the Ice Age people preferred to feast on herbivorous creatures, “it seems understandable that in an event of hunting down a wolf discarding its meat would be a huge loss, particularly when the food was less accessible,” said Mr Wojtal, adding that “for this reason it seems that all parts of the predators’ bodies were used.”

But wolves were not the sole predators who fell pray to our ancestors, as the Polish scientists found surprisingly numerous remnants of wolverines, steppe foxes, red foxes but also bones belonging to the largest and most dreadful animals of the Pleistocene steppe-tundra, the Eurasian cave lion and the cave bear.

“As much as the remnants of lions and bears do not abound, the ones that we’ve found also had marks on them evidencing that the hunters of those days made full use of the bodies of killed predators… Cuts found on the bones of lions and bears show that they were produced during skinning and deboning,” said the scientist, adding that “the meat of those large predators was thus consumed by palaeolithic hunters.”

The research’s results were published in the “Journal of Anthropological Archaeology.” The article was co-authored by Jiří Svoboda of the Czech Academy of Sciences and Masaryk University in Brno, and Martin Roblíčková.