A team of researchers led by archaeologists from Oxford have published a new paper revealing the discovery of a 3000-year-old shark attack victim. The remains show that the person was attacked by a shark in the Seto Inland Sea of the Japanese archipelago. The discovery of the 3000-year-old remains is the earliest direct evidence for a shark attack on a human.
Researchers who discovered the remains have carefully re-created what happened using a combination of archaeological science and forensic techniques. The shark attack victim’s remains were discovered while researchers were investigating evidence for violent trauma on the skeletal remains of prehistoric hunter-gatherers at Kyoto University.
The shark attack specimen is called No24 and is from a previously excavated site called Tsukumo. The remains are of an adult male that is reportedly riddled with traumatic injuries. Researchers say they were confused initially by what could’ve possibly caused at least 790 deep serrated injuries to the man.
Researchers say there were so many injuries to the body, yet he was still buried in the community burial ground at the Tsukumo Shell-mound cemetery site. Researchers said the injuries to the remains were mainly on the arms, legs, and front of the chest and abdomen. Using a process of elimination, researchers ruled out human conflict and animal predators or scavengers.
Researchers then turned to forensic shark attack cases for clues and were able to piece together the attack. Researchers believe that the individual died over 3000 years ago, between 1370 and 1010 BC. They believe the distribution of the wounds suggests the man was alive during the attack noting that his left hand was sheared off, presumably a defense wound. The body was recovered after the shark attack and buried by his people at the cemetery. The man was also missing his right leg, and his left leg was placed on top of his body in an inverted position. Researchers believe due to the character and distribution of tooth marks; the shark was likely a tiger or white shark.