How cut marks on fossil bones were verified RESEARCHERS USED cutting-edge technology in Paris to observe the marks on three fossil bones on a micron scale and to compare them with other marks. The fossils included a long bone, a foot bone and a splinter of three animals of the bovid family that includes buffalo and bison. The fossil marks on the foot bone were observed using X-ray microtomography at the AST-RX platform of the National Museum of Natural History. It is a highperformance scanner that allows a 3D high-resolution view from the surface to the internal structure of the fossils. A binocular microscope was used to look at the surface features of the splinter. Then 3D digital Video Microscope Hirox helped capture 3D images of the surface of the long bone, bringing into focus the whole section of grooves and scratch marks. These technologies allowed an examination of the mineralisation of the marks. Mineralisation was found to be similar to that of bone tissue, distinguishing the marks from a fresh trace made by shepherds.
The cut marks on fossils were first compared with animal marks on other fossil bones from Masol (carnivores, rodents) and a collection in Paris (bear, lion, wolf, hyena, Panthera, wild cat). The researchers then created cut marks on bones of extant species with quartzite stone collected at Masol for comparison. First they obtained flakes of quartzite by striking a stone with a quartzite cobble) on large quartzite cobble). Using this flake, they cut the surface of long bones of a deer skeleton collected at Masol in the area where the tendons are attached.
Next, they procured a pig foot in
Hominin in savannah
France. A quartzite cobble from Masol was broken and its sharp edge used to cut the skin until reaching the hard surface of the bone. The topography of the cut marks on experimental bones was compared to the fossil marks of the long bone. They showed the same shape, profile and very fine details.
Comparison of fossil (left) and experimental cut marks