3,000-year-old murder mystery: Shark attack solved

Original excavation photo of Tsukumo No. 24. The man died after being attacked by a shark or shark, according to a new analysis of his injuries.

Original excavation photo of Tsukumo No. 24. The man died after being attacked by a shark or shark, according to a new analysis of his injuries.
picture: Physical Anthropology Laboratory, Kyoto University

A large shark, likely a great white or tiger, fatally attacked a young man. The man’s wounds were extensive, including the loss of his leg, hand, and feet. Thanks to those who recovered his body at the time and the way they buried it, his bones have survived 3,000 years to tell a harrowing story of his last moments.

Today it is known as Tsukomo No. 24, and is one of more than 170 skeletons excavated at a site in Japan. We now know more about this poor man and the trauma he suffered because of a paper It was published last week in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports.

the site itself –Seashell rubble cemetery fromJomon people in early Japan – Discovered by accident in the 1860s during a construction project. “The calcium carbonate in the shells helps protect skeletons from the relatively acidic soils of Japan,” said lead author J. Alyssa White, a DPhil candidate in archaeology at the University of Oxford.

This man was excavated in 1920 It has been checked several times since then. But the massive pits, pits, and cuts on his bones weren’t explained until White and her international team took a closer look at those marks.

Illustration for an article titled 3,000-Year-Old Murder Mystery Solved: Shark Attack

picture: Alyssa White/Physical Anthropology Laboratory, Kyoto University

It was obvious that he died violently. Co-author Masato Nakatsukasa, a professor at Kyoto University, said it was very likely that all previous researchers would have noticed the copious number of marks on the bones. However, the ancient tools of the time were not to match what was left in the skeleton, and violence between humans was ruled out. Nakatsukasa writes that far from black bears and wolves, Japan is not home to large carnivorous predators, so make Animal attack is a less obvious result. But this team, however, I wondered if “the Jomon people might be the target of predation.”

Since the researchers were unable to find animal signs matching those on this skeleton, and knowing that the Jomon people depended on marine resources, they turned to ocean predators. That, according to Rick Schulting, professor of scientific archeology and prehistory at the University of Oxford, is what led them to George Burgess, director emeritus of the Florida Program for Shark Research and coordinator emeritus of shark research. international shark attack file. And Burgess emphasized it: This was at least one penny’s business, if not more. This is the oldest recorded shark attack 2,000 years ago.

Illustration for an article titled 3,000-Year-Old Murder Mystery Solved: Shark Attack

picture: Alyssa White/Physical Anthropology Laboratory, Kyoto University

On this skeleton remain 790 painful lesions of shark teeth in the form of deep cuts, fractures of the ribs, bite marks, pricking wounds. To better understand the lesions and type of trauma, the team used a variety of techniques, including 3D imaging, computed tomography scanning and, most notably, Geographical Information System (GIS), a program often used to help visualize data related to landscapes and cityscapes.

“Archaeologists have a long history of working with technology,” explained John Bowensett, a research fellow in spatial archeology at the University of Oxford. “They also have a habit of using technology to do things that weren’t necessarily intended.”

What the team created is a powerful research tool that enables them (and anyone in the field of forensics or archaeology) to recreate bone trauma on a 3D image of the human body. In this case, White painstakingly added hundreds of shark tooth injuries to specific parts of each bone, enabling them to see in detail the injuries this man had. “This was incredibly useful to be able to see all of his injuries in 3D as we started putting his attack pattern together,” White said.

The upgrade is infinitely straightforward when one sees the tools currently available (just a 2D image with an “x” to generally identify where the shock occurred) and compares it to the customizable, searchable, and interactive 3D version the team has built. It’s a huge improvement, on par with the move from word processing to computer.

Screenshot of the Tsukumo 24 BodyMap 3D web application showing the distribution of wounds.  The app was developed by John Pouncett, Rick J. Schulting, and J. Alyssa White using a modified version of the BodyParts3D model.

Screenshot of the Tsukumo 24 BodyMap 3D web application showing the distribution of wounds. The app was developed by John Pouncett, Rick J. Schulting, and J. Alyssa White using a modified version of the BodyParts3D model.
screenshot: J Alyssa White

“To our knowledge, this is the first time that GIS has been used to map the human body in 3D,” Puckett said. “The distribution of trauma to the skeleton posed challenges to traditional 2D methods of recording—not least, how to represent damage within the rib cage. Working with a 3D model of the skeletal system allowed us to document all trauma. It also allowed us to understand the impact of skeletal trauma on other parts of the skeleton. The human body. Visualizing the blood vessels that would have been cut by trauma in the lower left leg highlights this effect in a profound way.”

A severed blood vessel or an amputated leg, according to Burgess, may have contributed to the swift and merciful death.

“When a human dies as a result of a shark bite, it is usually because they run out of blood, and lose blood. All it takes is one tooth to hit an artery to kill a person. However, he noted, “For all the bite marks on a skeleton, it’s a skeleton.” Fairly healthy.”

So, while we might recoil in horror for what’s left of Person 24 and what remains, Burgess suggested he may have died after the initial bite of blood loss. Therefore, the rest of his injuries may have occurred after death, when other sharks may have banished his body.

But this is only one possible scenario. The authors suggest that loss of hand number 24 and multiple cuts along the arms may represent affection, the term given to a shark stripping the hand of all flesh when someone tries to fend off an attack. If so, these would be defensive wounds, as he suffered while Number 24 was very much alive and aware of what was happening.

This kind of brutal attack speaks to a primal fear among most of us, which is why, even 3,000 years later, we are equally fascinated and terrified. But the authors are quick to point out that shark attacks are relatively rare. Despite terrifying examples like this, sharks generally do not pose a danger to humans. Burgess, who has spent most of his career studying shark attacks and sharks, says the average number of shark attacks per year worldwide is about 75. Of those 75 attacks, only six are fatal. He encourages people to think about the potentially billions of hours people globally spend in the water compared to these numbers, saying that in the list of human causes of death, “a shark attack would be at the bottom of the page, with the little asterisk in the ‘Other’ category.”

“On the other hand, it is estimated that humans kill 100 million sharks a year… This is unsustainable and will lead to the extinction of a number of shark species, which is very unfortunate to say the least. We would like people to think about this, and that Make way to allow coexistence with these wonderful animals.”

As for Number 24, it was especially poignant that his body had ever been recovered from the sea. We don’t know the circumstances that caused him to be in the ocean at the time, nor the circumstances surrounding the attack. But we do know that someone cared enough for this man to bury his body, even his severed leg, in the usual manner at the time.

As White described, “We have no way of knowing whether or not the attack was seen, nor can we say for certain that it was found in deep water, although that is entirely possible. There is a possibility that his body was washed ashore However, given the recovery of the severely affected areas of the body (i.e. the separated left leg), it is clear at least that great care has been taken to recover as much of it as possible.”


Jane Timmons (Tweet embed) is a freelance writer based in New Hampshire, who blogs about paleontology and archeology in mostmammoths.wordpress.com.

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