430,000 Year Old Skull Shows Earliest Evidence of Human Violence

Posted on May 28, 2015

Ancient skull found at the Pit of Bones shows blows to the head

This 430,000 year old skull provides the first evidence of human violence and likely the earliest known murder. The skull, known as Cranium 17, was found in a cave in Spain at a site dubbed the Pit of Bones. The skull shows two perimortem depression fractures on the frontal bone.

The researchers say the evidence indicates that the two fractures in the skull were produced with the same object in face-to-face interpersonal conflict. One or both of the blows together were likely lethal. The researchers do not think the injuries could have been obtained by the ancient human falling down the vertical shaft that leads to the cave.

The researchers also say, "This finding shows that the lethal interpersonal violence is an ancient human behavior and has important implications for the accumulation of bodies at the site, supporting an anthropic origin."

The lead researcher of the study, Dr Nohemi Sala from the Salud Carlos III Institute in Madrid, told BBC News, "This individual was killed in an act of lethal interpersonal violence. [This is] a window into an often invisible aspect of the social life of our human ancestors."

A research paper on the ancient violence was published here in the journal, PLoS One.

Photo: Javier Trueba / Madrid Scientific Films


More from Science Space & Robots


  • Study Finds Praying Mantises Kill and Eat Small Birds


  • Researchers Investigate Explosion of Sea Pickles off Northwest Coast


  • Ancient Giant Croc-like Creature Had Serrated Teeth Like T. Rex




  • Rat Lungworm Found Throughout Florida Say Scientists


  • Ancient Wasp Species Discovered in Amber Named After Ziggy Stardust


  • Japanese Scientists Build a Dance Teacher Robot