Scientist doing research work.
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A new study about nine cut marks being found on a fossilized shin bone has shocked everyone. The marks suggested that human ancestors butchered each other about 1.45 million years ago.

The Washington Post reported that the discovery raises the somewhat creepy possibility that the remains were cannibalized.

Briana Pobiner, a paleoanthropologist at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC, found the evidence in the collection of National Museums of Kenya's Nairobi National Museum, reported CNN.

During her research, she was looking for bite marks from extinct animals that possibly had preyed on ancient hominins. Then she came across cuts that seemed like they had been made by stone tools.

Pobiner said that the cut marks looked very similar to what she had seen on "animal fossils that were being processed for consumption."

She noted that it seemed most likely that the meat from the leg was eaten and that it was "eaten for nutrition as opposed to for a ritual."

Michael Pante, the study co-author and a paleoanthropologist at Colorado State University, made 3D models that were based on molds of marks on the bone.

He compared the cuts' shape with a database of 898 individual tooth, butchery and trample marks that were created while doing controlled experiments.

Pobiner had not told her co-author that she thought the cut marks were made by stone tools. But his analysis was the same as hers.

The sophisticated stone tools' emergence is associated with the arrival of the Homo genus which includes our species, Homo sapiens.

But more recent research has suggested that other ancient hominins might have used stone tools even before the Homo genus.

The cuts don't definitively prove that human ancestors who caused the damage also ate the leg. But Pobiner said that it was possible.

Pobiner said that the information they have tells them that "hominins were likely eating other hominins at least 1.45 million years ago."

Cannibalism might have been something that was more common in the past than previously thought, said Silvia Bello, a researcher in human origins at London's Natural History Museum.

Evidence for cannibalism had also been found at archaeological sites linked with Neanderthals and early modern humans.

Bello, who was not involved in the latest research, said that the new study that was published Monday in the journal Scientific Reports is "significant." That's because this new find suggests that "cannibalism might have been practiced, at least occasionally."

Her colleague Chris Stringer, research leader in human origins at London's Natural History Museum, said that this new evidence "looks quite convincing." He feels that it adds to the evidence for "cannibalism in very early, as well as the considerable evidence from later, humans."

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