Bones Tell Stories about how we live and how we did, or didn’t, die

Hi everyone,

As you can see from my recent tweet, a June 8 discovery of 200-year old bones in Belgium provided new clues about the events of the Battle of Waterloo and the soldiers who fought and died there, when Prussian and English troops defeated Napoleon. You can even see the bullet still nestled between to rib bones. What a find!

Soldier from 1815 Battle of Waterloo

My bones also tell some tales about how I lived and probably died. The wonderful people who found my bones speculated that I died quietly and wasn’t killed by animals. They are right that no animals were involved. My death seems almost boring compared to some.

There were no tooth marks on my bones, so I wasn’t the meal of a lion or saber-toothed cat. My skeleton was almost all together, so hyenas hadn’t taken my head and limbs in different directions. They think I might have been sick or drowned in what was then a stream where my pack often went to wash or just splash around.

We would also eat fruit, gather nuts and chew on grasses in that area. I see that a new discovery suggests that some other pre-humans who lived further south and about a million years after me ate tree bark, even though there was plenty of grass and leaves around!

Why would one eat bark and wood?  I tasted some once and it was very rough and bitter. The scientists could tell the tree-climbing pre-human, a young male, ate hard foods from the tiny bits of plant particles they found in his dental tartar and even tinier carbon isotopes in his tooth enamel.

2M years old, ate tree bark

None of my teeth were found because the front part of my skull was washed away, but you can believe me that I never ate another piece of bark!  After being buried under layers and layers of sand, dirt and other debris for more than 3 million years, the rains in Hadar washed all that away only a few years before my bones were found.

How did I die? Even I don’t know for sure. I was grooming a friend one minute and in the afterlife the next.

Not a bad end to what had been a full life. More about that when we chat again.

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