Our internet is in a constant state of flux, old stories suddenly becoming new with lame-o redditors posting “MIND-BLOWN” as they ‘fucking love science’. To be kinder, take Randall Munroe’s philosophy of the 10,000.1
Over at the Shields Gazette, Mike Hallowell tickles everyone’s fortean fancy with the tale of the Broken Hill cranium.2
Nota bene: A skull is only a skull if it has its mandible, otherwise it’s just a cranium. It’s a Homo rhodesiensis, not H. neanderthalensis which haven’t been found yet on the dark continent. Whether they’re the same species, just with notionally different skull structure is another controversy altogether.
Anyway, the Broken Hill Cranium. On the left side of the skull, ’round the ear, is a ‘perfect’ circular hole. Since the wound lacks radial cracks, which would be caused by a slow missile like an arrow or spear, some fortean forensic experts speculate this could be a bullet wound. But where’s the projectile?
Mainstream science, when it’s not fucking loving itself, makes a case for the cause being an infection that eventually went septic, killing our ancestral cousin. The proof in their pudding is the caveman’s wound having shown signs of healing. Fair enough, but I’d be more comfortable if there were photos of similar abscesses in modern human skulls with ‘perfect’ proportions. Just spent a good 10-20 minutes browsing skull gore photos to no avail.
Among those horrors were examples of ancient brain surgery. Known as trepanation, ancients (and our contemporaries) would carve holes into skulls to relieve pressure on the brain or release evil spirits. Sometimes the hole would be drilled into the skull, other times the skull would be scraped, and scraped, and scraped ’til the brain was exposed. The earliest known examples of trepanning are from Neolithic times, and if the Broken Hills cranium is an example of ancient surgery then our ancestors were far more clever than archaeologists would dare propose.
I have several hypotheses regarding the Broken Hill ‘bullet wound’, which are similarly plausible. A stone near a campfire may have had an air pocket which expanded from the heat, causing the rock to explode. A little shard of stone would be easily overlooked by an investigator as insignificant, or unrelated, to their research.
This could be a case of a micrometeorite making a lucky strike on this poor troglodyte. It’s highly unlikely that a single, pea-sized meteorite zipped through time and space just to ice a caveman. This particular stone may have been part of a meteor shower that peppered Rhodesia millions of moons ago. Evidence of similar events were uncovered in 2007 with mammoth tusks showing evidence of having been struck by micrometeorites.3
Stranger still is the prospect this was caused by a human weapon, the humble sling. Best known for taking down Goliath, and smashing Mister Wilson’s windows,4 ancient accounts would record astounding feats unparalleled ’til modern times and technologies caught up. Conventional science clocks a sling bullet travelling about 30 meters a second. At short range, it could cause a similar hole if the projectile was dense enough.5 Since cavemen regularly faced off with fearsome megafauna, they needed to be smarter than the average cave bear to devise weapons capable of fending off, if not killing, these monsters.
Dennis the Menace reference, sound the geezer alert! ↩