The mysterious death of a prehistoric man may have been solved with 3D modeling.
Researchers from seven renowned universities believe severe injuries found on the remains of a man who lived in Japan roughly 3,000 years ago could have been caused by a shark, according to a new study published in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports.
The man’s remains, which date back to Japan’s Jōmon era, were excavated from the Tsukumo archaeological site in Okayama in the last century. His body was noticeably missing a leg and hand and was riddled with deep serrated cuts.
Through close evaluation, radiocarbon dating and 3D modeling, researchers have theorized that the injuries likely came from a shark anytime between 1370 and 1010 B.C.E.
“The victim has at least 790 perimortem traumatic lesions characteristic of a shark attack, including deep, incised bone gouges, punctures, cuts with overlapping striations and perimortem blunt force fractures,” the study’s abstract states. “The distribution of wounds suggests the victim was probably alive at the time of attack rather than scavenged.”
Japan’s Seto Inland Sea is around 57.3 miles away from the Okayama Prefecture. The body of water is said to be linked to modern shark attacks, according to researchers.
The study has narrowed down two shark species that could be responsible for the fatal attack on the Jōmon man. So far, they believe a great white shark or tiger shark are likely culprits, which can grow up to 14 and 20 feet in length respectively, according to National Geographic.
While other civilizations in early human history were hunter-gathers, archaeologists know the people of the Jōmon era were fisher-hunter-gatherers. It is not clear if the excavation Jōmon man was a fisherman but it is plausible. Stone, bone and wood tools were common in Jōmon culture, Britannica reports.
The joint study was conducted by researchers from the University of Oxford, University of Florida, Kyoto University, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Tokai University’s School of Marine Science and Technology, University of Tokyo and Tokyo Metropolitan University.
Before researchers determined the Jōmon man could be the oldest shark victim on record, the world’s oldest known victim was thought to be a person who lived around A.D. 1000.