Mysterious cave bones of the giants

The Panxian Dadong Caves are known to have housed humans and giant animals 300,000 years ago.

How did these huge beasts even make their way up to the cave, and why would they? 

What bones can tell us is  a subject that has always amazed me.  Scientists analyzing found human bones can often pinpoint exactly where the possessor of the bones spent his early life.  They can even tell what water supply the person’s thirst-quenching liquid came from.  They can pinpoint the person’s diet and if he was a hard laborer or had a desk job.  This often leads to the solving of missing-persons mysteries.

Animal bones can be just as fascinating.  There is a mass of huge animal bones that exist in China in a mountain cave that is 1600 feet above sea level.  They are the bones of lumbering rhinos, stegadons, giant buffalo. 

The cave is one of the Panxian Dudong caverns on the western face of the Guizhan Plateau in southern China.  These bones have been altered physically and chemically by humans. Some type of human had to be possible in the same time frame as these huge prehistoric animals.  The area of the cave is an area of one of the earliest human populations.

Imagine if you will, that you are a paleoanthropologist, going through the layers of strata in a cave for evidence of human cave dwellers, and you begin to uncover bone after bone of huge land mammals.  How did these huge beasts even make their way up to the cave, and why would they? 

Most were grazers.  If not grazers, they caught and ate smaller animals than themselves.  They did not take same-sized animals.  The scientists were too smart to suppose that large animals of different species were having club meetings in the cave and communicating amongst themselves in an unknown animal language.

The scientists were baffled.  Were the animals dragged into the caves to be consumed by even larger animals?  That does not seem likely, scientists conclude.

The layers of soil deposits that have been examined are 19 meters deep and in these layers there is evidence of human activity, including human teeth. There is evidence of blade marks and chemical staining on some of the bones—some of the bones have evidence of pounding.  These discoveries, in the central chamber of three stacked caves, are the bones of the giant buffalo, rhinoceri, and stegadons. 

Nearby there is even the bones of a giant ape.  The ape, Gigantepithecus blackii, coexisted with homo erectus in the timeline.  The beast was over ten feet tall and weighed 1200 pounds.  It was a good thing it was a herbivore.  The animals lived over 300,000 years ago, maybe longer, and are from the Middle Pleistocene Period. 

There are skeletal remnants of over 40 species of animals in the cave, along with human teeth.  They were discovered at a time when Westerners were searching for the source of dragon’s bones found in so many Chinese shops.  Of course they were not from dragons, but scientists were curious about them.  The same curiosity had led to the discovery of bones of Peking Man, which were sadly lost again during the drama of WWII.

As of this writing, it is still a mind-boggling mystery:  how and why did the huge animals get into the high-up cave?  Were they carried there by other larger animals?  Not likely.  They were very large themselves.  Did homo erectus carry them in there?  Possibly. 

There were some bones of baby animals, the bones of rhino and stegodon juveniles.  Humans or packs of animals may have been able to move baby animals—but there were far too many full-grown, huge animals in the cave.  For what purpose did hominids take the animals in there, if they were able to?  The evidence shows that the bones were sometimes cut, pounded by stone, burned and stained by other methods.  It is still a mystery.

Sara Marie Hogg is the author of the award winning Quite Curious, a collection of true stories about the unknown and unexplained. Please click HERE to find the book on Amazon.

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