Category Archives: GERMANY

Fossil of a beetle inside a lizard inside a snake – an ancient food chain

Fossil of a beetle inside a lizard inside a snake – an ancient food chain

Paleontologists have uncovered a fossil that has preserved an insect inside a lizard inside a snake – a prehistoric battle of the food chain that ended in a volcanic lake some 48 million years ago.

Pulled from an abandoned quarry in southwest Germany called the Messel Pit, the fossil is only the second of its kind ever found, with the remains of three animals sitting snug in one another.

Earlier excavations have revealed the fossilized stomach contents of a prehistoric horse, whose last meal was grapes and leaves, and pollen grains were identified inside a fossilized bird. Remains of insects have also been detected in a sample of fish excrement.

Grube Messel

We have been lucky to glimpse such a primordial food chain of the snake, that ate a lizard, that had previously treated itself to a beetle, and ended up in a volcanic lake of the time. It is uncertain how the snake died.

Perhaps the snake’s body fell dead close to the shores of the lake before the waters claimed it. It had died there not more than 48 hours after its “last supper,” scientists say.

“It’s probably the kind of fossil that I will go the rest of my professional life without ever encountering again, such is the rarity of these things.” Such are the words of Dr. Krister Smith, a paleontologist at the Senkenberg Institute in Germany who took charge of the fossil analysis.

According to Dr. Smith, the almost entirely preserved snake was recovered from a plate found in the pit back in 2009, and the discovery soon turned out to be groundbreaking. Smith remarks, “we had never found a tripartite food chain–this is a first for Messel.”

Dr. Smith and Argentine paleontologist Dr. Agustín Scanferla used high-resolution computer imaging to identify the taxonomy of the snake and the lizard, however, they were unable to name the beetle, the least preserved of the three.

Palaeopython fischeri, exhibited in Naturmuseum Senckenberg, Frankfurt am Main, Germany

The snake, measuring some 3.4 feet in length, was identified as Palaeophython fischeri, a species which belongs to a group of tree-dwelling snakes that was able to grow to more than 6.5 feet in length and is related to today’s boas.

The preserved sample from Germany was only a juvenile, an assurance being not only the shorter length but also its food choice, the lizard. Adult boas are known to opt for bigger animals.

The lizard would have measured nearly eight inches and a clear hint for paleontologists that it was inside the snake’s body was that the snake’s ribs overlapped it.

It is an example of the now extinct species Geiseltaliellus maarius, a type of iguanian lizard that inhabited the region of what is now Germany, France, and Belgium. Messel has been the site that has provided some of the best-preserved samples of this lizard species.

What’s also interesting is that, even though lizards are known for shedding their tails when under threat, this one has kept it despite falling prey to the snake.

“Since the stomach contents are digested relatively fast and the lizard shows an excellent level of preservation, we assume that the snake died no more than one to two days after consuming its prey and then sank to the bottom of the Messel Lake, where it was preserved,” explained Dr. Smith.

Fossil of Palaeopython in the Naturhistorisches Museum Wien

This is a rare type of fossil, but it’s not the first instance in which a fossil has simultaneously exposed three levels of an ancient food chain. According to National Geographic, in 2008, a fossil dated at more than 250 millions of years old depicted a shark that had devoured an amphibian that had previously consumed a spiny-finned fish.

Both these findings are precious as they reveal significant details on how food chains functioned. In the case of the snake fossil, it is interesting that the lizard had eaten a beetle.

Before that, scientists didn’t know that the Messel lizard liked to dine on insects, as in previous digs they had been able to identify only remains of plants in fossilized lizard bellies. In the case of the shark, it was revealed that amphibians consumed fish before becoming a menu item to the fish itself.

‘The Mayor’ buried 6,800 years ago with drinks and food for afterlife discovered in Bavaria

‘The Mayor’ buried 6,800 years ago with drinks and food for afterlife discovered in Bavaria

Dingolfing-Landau district archaeologist Florian Eibl beside the skeleton of “The Mayor” at the excavations at the village of Exing, near the Bavarian town of Eichendorf.

About 6,800 years ago, a “mayor” was buried with a wealth of food and riches, including a halved boar’s tooth, according to archaeologists who found the rare burial in southern Germany.

The mayor’s Middle Neolithic remains were found near the Bavarian town of Eichendorf, close to Munich and Germany’s southeastern borders with Austria and the Czech Republic.

According to the local government of Bavaria’s Dingolfing-Landau district, the discovery was made last week by district archaeologists excavating at the village of Exing, about 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) to the west.

The person in the grave was buried with food and drink for the afterlife; dyes for body painting; a stone ax and a stone adze; and a boar’s tooth split in two. 

The rich grave goods indicate that the person buried there was of high status, possibly an elder or a chieftain — and archaeologists have dubbed them “The Mayor.”

The investigation hasn’t yet determined how old the person was when they died, or whether they were male or female.

The artifacts include pieces of gold jewelry, like this earring in the shape of a boat or barge from more than 2,000 years ago.

Rich grave

District archaeologist Florian Eibl told the German outlet Der Spiegel that it was unusual to find  human remains in a grave from this time and at this place, as very few Neolithic skeletons have survived.

In addition, he said, the finds indicated a person of special position who was older in years and had probably earned their wealth and status, rather than inherited it. 

The two parts of a boar’s tooth were probably two halves of a container that had once held a flint blade and tools for making fire — a symbol of status, because hunting wild boars was dangerous at that time, he said. 

The person in the grave was buried in a squatting position, and several vessels had been placed around their head — but it’s not yet known what they originally held. 

A drinking vessel placed in front of the skeleton’s face was probably their personal cup, and stone blades were also placed in the grave. 

The artifacts found during the excavations at Exing span roughly 7,000 years, including these remains large of a pottery jar.
The excavations in the Barvarian village of Exing have revealed several sites that date from the Mesolithic period to the Bronze Age.

Archaeological site 

Archaeologists from the district government have worked on excavations at Exing since 2023, ahead of a residential development there.

The spectacular finds from Exing span roughly 7,000 years, from the Neolithic through to the Copper and Bronze Ages, including pieces of gold jewelry.

Eibl said the area was important during the Neolithic period for its rich settlements such as Köthingeichendorf, which was a center of importance throughout Europe at that time. 

The skeleton of “The Mayor” will now be examined on site by an anthropologist and have photographs taken to produce a precise 3D model. The technique, known as photogrammetry, involves stitching multiple digital images together to make a virtual model.

‘4,200-year-old Zombie grave’ discovered in Germany

‘4,200-year-old Zombie grave’ discovered in Germany

‘4,200-year-old Zombie grave’ discovered in Germany

Archaeologists excavating in East Germany have found a 4,200-year-old grave near Oppin in Saxony-Anhalt containing the skeleton of a man believed to be at risk of becoming a “zombie”.

A supposed zombie grave, dating back thousands of years, shedding light on the superstitious practices of Bronze Age Europeans.

The deceased was pinned under a large stone to prevent him from rising from the grave to wreak havoc on the living. The slab was four inches (10 centimeters) thick, 20 inches (50 centimeters) wide, and roughly three feet (one meter) long. Its intended function was to stop the deceased from excavating his own grave, as zombies—or, more accurately, revenants—have been known to do.

The tomb of the suspected zombie was uncovered during excavations that have been launched along the route of a planned long-distance, underground power line known as the SuedOstLink, which will transmit electricity from Saxony-Anhalt into Bavaria.

“It is an adult man, about 40 to 60 years old. He is lying on his left side with his legs bent and facing east,” excavation manager Uwe Moos said at the excavation site. “A large stone, about one metre long, 50 centimeters wide and ten centimeters high, lies across his lower legs.”

The zombie grave was discovered in open farmland in Saxony-Anhalt (MDR)

According to Moos, the deceased may have been unloved or suffered from a serious illness. “The heavy stone was intended to prevent him from coming back,” said Moos. The man may have come from the Bell Beaker culture – making it the first such revenant grave from this period in central Germany.

Although stories about vampires, zombies, and other undead ghouls were particularly prevalent in Europe during the Middle Ages, little is known about how deeply the idea of the revenant permeated Bronze Age mythology.

The fact that a zombie burial was found in eastern Germany indicates that the legends were known in the area as early as the third millennium BC, indicating that they may have originated even earlier in prehistory.

“We know that even in the Stone Age, people were afraid of revenants,” said archaeologist and Project Manager Susanne Friederich, in an interview with the German public broadcasting outlet MDR. “Back then, people believed that dead people sometimes tried to free themselves from their graves.”

A common theme in many ancient mythologies, particularly those of the Celtic and Norse people, was the revenant or zombie. Ancient Greeks also had a genuine fear of revenants, as evidenced by their custom of weighing down entombed bodies.

The Romans believed in revenants, and putting stone blocks in the mouths of the dead prevented them from rising and devouring the flesh of the living, according to a wealth of literature.

‘4,200-year-old Zombie grave’ discovered in Germany
The burial site dates back around 4,200 years, the archaeologist said. Photo: © LDA Saxony-Anhalt, Anja Lochner-Rechta The burial site dates back around 4,200 years, the archaeologist said.

To stop the evil dead from rising, one way was to lay a large stone across the body. However, it wasn’t the only one.

“There are graves where the corpse even lies on its stomach,” Friederich said.  “If it lies on its stomach, it burrows deeper and deeper instead of rising to the surface … there are also dead bodies lying on their stomachs who were also pierced with a lance, so they were practically fixed in the ground.”

The excavations are taking place in the run-up to the grid expansion of the direct current line SuedOstLink. The approximately 150-kilometer-long section through Saxony-Anhalt will be archaeologically investigated until 2025. The skeletal remains have been recovered from the Neolithic grave and are being transferred to a laboratory in Halle for further study.

A sculpture of a snake-bodied Roman-German deity was discovered in Stuttgart

A sculpture of a snake-bodied Roman-German deity was discovered in Stuttgart

A sculpture of a snake-bodied Roman-German deity was discovered in Stuttgart

A sculpture of a snake-bodied Roman-German deity was discovered at the Roman fort in Stuttgart, Germany.

Since the beginning of the year, excavations have been taking place at the Roman fort on Altenburger Steige in Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt under the expert supervision of the State Office for Monument Preservation (LAD) at the Stuttgart Regional Council. Archaeologists examine the construction site for the extension of the municipal Altenburg School.

In Roman times, from around 100 to 150 AD, there was initially a fort for an equestrian unit, which was followed by an extensive civilian settlement until around 260 AD.

During the excavations, a stone figurine from the Roman world of gods was found, which can be linked to finds from over 100 years ago.

An employee of the executing company ArchaeoBW noticed an inconspicuous, mud-smeared sandstone. Upon closer inspection and after initial cleaning, the find turned out to be a 30-centimeter tall kneeling figure with a human head.

Despite the weathering of the stone, you can see how her arms rest on the sides of her upper body and her hands rest on her hips and legs. However, the latter does not have a human shape, instead merging into a kind of snake body.

The chief archaeologist of the LAD, Dr. Andreas Thiel, explained: The figure is a hybrid creature from the Roman-Germanic world of gods, a ‘giant.’ As comparable finds show, the figure was part of a Jupiter-Giant column. These monuments combine classical antiquity with presumably Germanic beliefs: The thunderbolt-wielding Jupiter rides his horse over a crouching figure on the ground, usually naked and bearded, as can be seen, for example, in a group from Hausen an der Zaber, in the Heilbronn district.

However, the figure beneath the horse is often depicted in a pose that seems to hold up the horse. These groups of figures topped tall stone pillars erected in public squares. It is presumed that Jupiter is represented here as the god of weather and lord of the forces of nature, Thiel says.

In addition to its scientific significance, the new find also has another highly interesting aspect, according to Thiel: ‘Every archaeologist is delighted when a beautiful find is made. Every excavation on the Hallschlag brings pieces of the puzzle of the Roman past of the state capital to light. In this case, we are in the fortunate position that our giant fits in with other finds that came to light in Bad Cannstatt over a hundred years ago,”.

The sculpture of the newly found giant combined with the Four Gods Stone, which was discovered in 1908. This is located in the depot of the Württemberg State Museum. Both stones were once part of a Roman Jupiter giant column.

‘We have many artifacts from Roman Bad Cannstatt in our depot. When we heard about the new discovery, we immediately thought of another part of a Jupiter Giant column: its base usually included a so-called four-god stone. In the depot of the Württemberg State Museum there is a badly damaged four-gods stone with depictions of the Roman gods Mercury, Juno, Hercules, and Minerva,’ explained Dr Astrid Fendt, Head of the Department of Archaeology and Head of Classical and Provincial Roman Archaeology at the Württemberg State Museum in Stuttgart.

And Andreas Thiel added: ‘This very four-god stone comes from a well (which was located on the edge of the currently excavated area) and was found during the excavations in 1908. The inconspicuous giant could also have been lying there, but probably escaped the attention of our colleagues at the time, which is not surprising if you imagine the stone still dirty.’

On-site at the excavation in Bad Cannstatt: The ArchaeoBW excavation team (left) and the team from the Provincial Roman Archaeology Department of the Württemberg State Museum (right). In the center, the team from the State Monuments Office at the Stuttgart Regional Council with the new find.

Overall, it is a great stroke of luck that the recently discovered giant can be linked to a fragment that has long been stored in the Württemberg State Museum’s depot.

This allows for the reconstruction of a Jupiter giant column, which was once erected near an important road junction in the Roman settlement of Bad Cannstatt. Archaeologists see this as another piece in the puzzle of Stuttgart’s rich Roman past.

Archaeologists unearth 6,000-year-old two monumental mounds containing wooden grave chambers in Germany

Archaeologists unearth 6,000-year-old two monumental mounds containing wooden grave chambers in Germany

Archaeologists from the State Office for Heritage Management and Archaeology Saxony-Anhalt (LDA) have uncovered a significant Neolithic burial landscape on the Eulenberg near Magdeburg, Germany, during an excavation that was spurred by impending construction activities by US chip manufacturer Intel.

200 meters separated the two roughly 6,000-year-old monumental mounds that contained several burials each and were made of wood. For an extended period, the landscape undoubtedly continued to be significant to prehistoric people.

Around 1000 years later, the corridor in between the mounds was used as a processional route where cattle were sacrificed and people buried.

A small hill known as Eulenberg is partially included in the 300-hectare large industrial park.

Excavations have revealed two mounds from the Baalberge Group (4100–3600 BC), a late Neolithic culture that inhabited Central Germany and Bohemia.

These two mounds contained wooden grave chambers containing multiple burials. These chambers are trapezoidal and their length is between 20 and 30 meters.

The corridor in between was probably a procession route around a thousand years later, during the period of the Globular Amphora Culture (3300–2800 BC). Along this path, pairs of young, 2-3-year-old cattle were sacrificed and buried.

In one case, the grave of a 35 to 40-year-old man was dug in front the cattle burials, creating the image of a cart with a driver or a plow pulled by cattle, orchestrations that are already known from other older and contemporary burials.

They symbolize that with the cattle the most important possession, the security of one’s own livelihood, was offered to the gods.

Archaeologists unearth 6,000-year-old two monumental mounds containing wooden grave chambers in Germany
Excavation of two around 5,000-year-old cattle burials. Oliver Dietrich. Photo: State Office for Heritage Management and Archaeology Saxony-Anhalt

Around 1,000 years later, a palisade ditch that was still 50 cm wide took up the course of the former procession route and deliberately included the larger of the two burial mounds in the approximately 3 hectare large burial landscape. It passed over the cattle burials but did not destroy them.

In addition, several Corded Ware Culture burial mounds (around 2800-2050 BC) with diameters of around 10 m were discovered in around 600 m distance.

The consistency in the ritual use of this part of the Eulenberg is astonishing, and the subsequent analysis of the finds promises even more interesting insights.

The State Office for Monument Protection and Archaeology plans to conclude the excavations by the end of April, paving the way for the construction phase. With the impending construction of semiconductor plants by Intel, efforts to preserve and document the archaeological heritage of the site remain crucial.

Discarded Neolithic Meal Identified in Germany

Discarded Neolithic Meal Identified in Germany

Discarded Neolithic Meal Identified in Germany
This pottery shard has 5,000-year-old charred food on it.

People have been burning their porridge for at least 5,000 years, remains of a charred cooking pot unearthed in Germany confirms. And just like today, cleaning the pot was more hassle than it was worth.

Archaeologists discovered the meal mishap after examining a trash heap of mixed pottery shards at Oldenburg LA 7, a Neolithic settlement that researchers consider one of the oldest villages in Germany, according to a study published Jan. 19 in the journal PLOS One.

“As soon as we looked inside the person’s cooking pot it was obvious that something went wrong,” study lead author and archaeobotanist Lucy Kubiak-Martens, a cooperation partner with BIAX Consult, a company that specializes in archaeobotany and paleobotany in the Netherlands, told Live Science.

Chemical analyses of the residues still caked onto the ceramic shards revealed “food crusts” containing traces of different ancient cereal grains, including emmer wheat and barley.

Researchers also found remnants of white goosefoot, a wild plant known for its starchy seeds, according to a statement from Kiel University in Germany. 

“One pottery shard that once was part of a plain, thick-walled pot contained the remains of white goosefoot seeds, which are related to quinoa and rich in protein,” Kubiak-Martens said.

“There was also emmer, which when sprouted, has a sweet flavor. It looked like someone had mixed cereal grains with the protein-rich seeds and cooked it with water. It wasn’t incidental, it was a choice.”

While there is evidence that people ground wild oats, likely for flour, 32,000 years ago in Italy, the newly described broken pot may represent the world’s first recorded (and failed) attempt at cooking porridge. It is impossible to say if the person broke the pot rather than be bothered with cleaning it, or if the pot broke naturally long after the cooking mishap.

A microscopic image of the internal microstructure of the food crust showing emmer grain particles.

A separate pottery shard contained animal fat residue — most likely milk — that had seeped into the clay. However, it didn’t appear that the cook in question had mixed any grains into the liquid, so the milk was unlikely part of the porridge. 

“The sprouted grains also tell us when they harvested them, which would have been when they sprouted sometime in the late summer,” Kubiak-Martens said. “Back then they couldn’t put grains on a shelf and store them for later use like we do today. They had to use what they harvested immediately.”

While previous analyses of soil samples have shown evidence of cooking with similar ancient grains and seeds during this time period, this study marks the first time that researchers have found burnt food residue on a ceramic vessel in Neolithic Germany and offers a glimpse of this person’s diet, according to the statement.

“[This cooking incident] not only shows us the last step in someone’s daily routine of preparing meals but also the last cooking event using this pot,” she said. “This is much more than just a charred grain. We are seeing how people prepared their daily meals thousands of years ago.”

This 48-Million-Year-Old Fossil Has an Insect Inside a Lizard Inside a Snake

This 48-Million-Year-Old Fossil Has an Insect Inside a Lizard Inside a Snake

Palaeontologists have uncovered a fossil that has preserved an insect inside a lizard inside a snake – a prehistoric battle of the food chain that ended in a volcanic lake some 48 million years ago.

Pulled from an abandoned quarry in southwest Germany called the Messel Pit, the fossil is only the second of its kind ever found, with the remains of three animals sitting snug in one another.

“It’s probably the kind of fossil that I will go the rest of my professional life without ever encountering again, such is the rarity of these things,” palaeontologist Krister Smith from Germany’s Senckenberg Institute told Michael Greshko at National Geographic. “It was pure astonishment.”

Smith and his team suspect that the iguana ate a shiny insect meal, and then two days later was swallowed headfirst by a juvenile snake. 

It’s unclear how the snake ultimately died, but what we do know is it got too close to the deep volcanic lake that once bubbled in the Messel Pit, and was either poisoned or suffocated by the toxic fumes.

Its corpse likely slid into the lake after death, where the Russian doll of skeletons was preserved perfectly for millions of years.

This 48-Million-Year-Old Fossil Has an Insect Inside a Lizard Inside a Snake
Rare ‘Nesting Doll’ Fossil Uncovers Beetle in Lizard in Snake. Snake with lizard and beetle: The rare tripartite fossil food chain from the Messel Pit.
A beetle inside a reptile inside a snake.

“To see this kind of trophic scale recorded within the gut of a snake is a very cool thing,” UK palaeontologist Jason Head from the University of Cambridge, who wasn’t involved with the study, told National Geographic.

While the combination of snake-lizard-bug is entirely unique in the fossil record, this isn’t the first time a prehistoric turducken has been discovered. 

Back in 2008, Austrian researchers found a 250-million-year-old fossil that had preserved a shark that had eaten some kind of amphibian that had eaten a small fish. 

It’s far more fragmentary than the Messel Pit fossil, but it was the first real indication that the food web of the time was far more complex than researchers had thought.

If anywhere is likely to be harbouring more of these types of fossils, it’s the Messel Pit, which in the past has served up the now notorious Darwinius masillae fossil, a fossilised beetle with its turquoise iridescence largely intact, and two turtles caught in the middle of doing, erm, turtle things…

The best-preserved fossils in the world from the Eocene epoch, which ran from around 56 to 34 million years ago, have been found here, and Smith and his team are already planning another trip back.

“This fossil is amazing,” says one of the researchers, Agustín Scanferla. “We were lucky men to study this kind of specimen.”

The find has been published in Palaeobiodiversity and Palaeoenvironments.

Archaeologists discover almost complete 300,000-year-old elephant skeleton

Archaeologists discover almost complete 300,000-year-old elephant skeleton

This is how the ancient humans may have discovered the elephant’s carcass on a lake shore at what is now Schöningen, Germany.

Archaeologists have discovered the nearly complete skeleton of an enormous, now-extinct elephant that lived about 300,000 years ago in what is now the northern German town of Schöningen, according to new research.

Although this elephant — the Eurasian straight-tusked elephant (Palaeoloxodon antiquus) — likely died of old age, meat-eaters promptly devoured it; bite marks on its bones suggest that carnivores feasted on the dead beast, and flint flakes and bone tools found near the elephant indicate that humans scavenged whatever was left, the researchers said.

“The Stone Age hunters probably cut meat, tendons, and fat from the carcass,” project researcher Jordi Serangeli, head of the excavation in Schöningen, said in a statement.

The elephant died on the western side of a vast lake, a hint that it perished from natural causes.

“Elephants often remain near and in water when they are sick or old,” Ivo Verheijen, a doctoral student in archaeozoology and paleontology at the University of Tübingen, said in the statement. In addition, the elephant, a female, had worn teeth, suggesting it was old when it died, he said. 

Archaeologists discover an almost complete 300,000-year-old elephant skeleton
This 3D image was created by stitching together 500 individual photos that were taken of the straight-tusked elephant.
The remains from the front part of the elephant’s body are shown here.
Excavator Martin Kursch uncovers one of the elephant’s feet.
The excavation site in Schöningen, Germany

Image Gallery

Researchers have found the remains of at least 10 elephants dating to the Lower Paleolithic — also known as the Old Stone Age (about 3 million to 300,000 years ago) —  over the past several years at Schöningen. But this new find is by far the most complete. The remains include 7.5-foot-long (2.3 meters) tusks — which are 125% longer than the average 6-foot-long (1.8 m) tusk of a modern African elephant, according to Encyclopedia Britannica.

The researchers also found the complete lower jaw, numerous vertebrae and ribs, large bones from three of its four legs, and all five of its delicate hyoid bones, which are found in the neck and help support the tongue and voice box. 

This P. antiquus elephant had a shoulder height of about 10.5 feet (3.2 m) and would have weighed about 7.5 tons (6.8 metric tons). “It was therefore larger than today’s African elephant cows,” Verheijen said.

Near these remains, researchers found 30 small flint flakes and two long bone tools. Micro flakes embedded in these two bones suggest the ancient humans who scavenged the elephant used them to sharpen stone tools (called knapping) at the site, said project researcher Bárbara Rodríguez Álvarez, an archaeologist at the University of Tübingen. 

Of note, the ancient humans who likely scavenged the elephant were not Homo sapiens. The earliest evidence of H. sapiens in Europe dates to about 45,000 years ago, according to excavations at a cave in Bulgaria, a study published last week in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution found. Instead, these human scavengers were likely H. heidelbergensis, an extinct human relative who lived about 700,000 to 200,000 years ago, the researchers in Germany said.

Wildlife watering hole

The lake was a popular hole for elephants, according to several of their preserved footprints just 330 feet (100 m) from the new elephant excavation site. 

“A small herd of adults and younger animals must have passed through,” Flavio Altamura, a researcher at the Department of Antiquities at Sapienza University in Rome, said in the statement. “The heavy animals were walking parallel to the lakeshore. Their feet sank into the mud, leaving behind circular tracks.”

These elephants would have lived in a comfortable climate, comparable to today’s; about 300,000 years ago, Europe was in the Reinsdorf interglacial, a warmer period bookended by two glacial (or colder) periods. Other animals thrived there, too. About 20 kinds of large animals lived around the lake, including lions, bears, saber-toothed cats, rhinoceroses, wild horses, deer, and large cattle, according to excavations. “The wealth of wildlife was similar to that of modern Africa,” Serangeli said.

All of these animals attracted ancient human hunters. Archaeologists have found the remains of 10 wooden spears and one throwing stick from 300,000 years ago, according to a study published online on April 20 in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution. 

The new finding was uncovered in a collaborative effort between the Senckenberg Centre for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment at the University of Tübingen in Germany and the Lower Saxony State Office for Heritage. The research will be published in the magazine “Archäologie in Deutschland” (Archaeology in Germany) and was presented at a press conference in Schöningen on May 19.