The first evidence of cannibalism in Mesolithic Spain has been found, a study published in this month's Journal of Anthropological Archaeology reveals. That evidence comes in the form of 30 human remains discovered in a cave at the Coves de Santa Maria. The remains are between 9,000 and 10,000 years old. While it can be difficult to tell the difference between damage to human bones caused by being munched on and damage caused by sitting in a cave for thousands of years, researchers are confident of their conclusions after several years studying the bones, Ars Technica reports.
The bones had teeth marks that appear to be human and marks from tools used to butcher meat. They showed signs of burning and were found in a pile with animal bones. It appears at least two humans had been eaten in at least two separate meals. While evidence of cannibalism has been found across Europe, it's unclear why these particular Spanish cave-dwellers decided to eat their fellow man. It's possible they got desperate during a famine or period of bad hunting. It's also possible the cannibalism was part of a spiritual ritual; ancient people have been known to eat both people they want to honor and their enemies. (A 1972 plane crash survivor recalls a descent into cannibalism.)