Researchers find 3,000-year-old shark attack victim

Asha Bajaj
2 min readJul 5, 2021

#ArcheologicalScience; #ForensicTechniques; #3000YearOldSharkAttackVictim; #SeaOfJapaneseArchipelago; #KyotoUniversity

​London (England)/Canadian-Media: Discovery of a 3,000-year-old victim — attacked by a shark in the Seto Inland Sea of the Japanese archipelago was revealed by Oxford-led researchers that were published in Journal of Archeological Science: Reports, reported last month.

Original excavation photograph of Tsukumo №24, courtesy of the Laboratory of Physical Anthropology, Kyoto University. Image Credit: Kyoto University

According to the research, this body is the earliest direct evidence for a shark attack on a human.

A careful recreation of the event was produced by an international research team using a combination of archeological science and forensic techniques.

Oxford researchers at Kyoto University, Schulting, J. Alyssa White, and Professor Rick investigated the evidence for violent trauma on the skeletal remains of prehistoric hunter-gatherers and continued,

“The injuries were mainly confined to the arms, legs, and front of the chest and abdomen. Through a process of elimination, we ruled out human conflict and more commonly-reported animal predators or scavengers,” reported last month.

Since archeological cases of shark reports are extremely rare, they turned to forensic shark attack cases for clues and worked with expert George Burgess, Director Emeritus of the Florida Program for Shark Research.

The team came to the conclusion that the individual died more than 3,000 years ago, between 1370 to 1010 BC. The distribution of wounds strongly suggests the victim was alive at the time of the attack; his left hand was sheared off, possibly a defense wound.

Excavation records showed he was also missing his right leg and his left leg was placed on top of his body in an inverted position and the pair was able to conclude that he was the victim of a shark attack and added,

“based on the character and distribution of the tooth marks, the most likely species responsible was either a tiger or the white shark,” reported by last month.

Co-author Dr. Mark Hudson, a researcher with the Max Planck Institute, says,

“The Neolithic people of Jomon Japan exploited a range of marine resources… It’s not clear if Tsukumo 24 was deliberately targeting sharks or if the shark was attracted by blood or bait from other fish. Either way, this find not only provides a new perspective on ancient Japan, but is also a rare example of archeologists being able to reconstruct a dramatic episode in the life of a prehistoric community,” reported last month.

Asha Bajaj

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