The hunters skillfully cut around the body, trimming fat and boning meat for later easy consumption. Leduc thinks much of the meat could have been transported to a nearby settlement site.
Before that happened, however, the hunters removed select bones, such as from the long limbs, likely for making bone weapons and tools. They also removed the antlers.
The elk's shoulder blade bones were taken out and afterwards, back at the settlement, “were sometimes worked and used presumably as knives for fish processing,” Leduc suspects.
As the hunters worked, they appear to have dumped waste material onto the reserved hide. It was later tossed into a nearby lake.
The front teeth of the elks were missing, suggesting “a specific status of front teeth for the hunters,” according to Leduc. Other prehistoric hunt scenes support this theory, as do discoveries of prehistoric tooth bling.
This series of events likely played out countless times, even long before 12,000 years ago.
“Modern humans hunted and butchered large game and cooked the meat from circa 45,000 years ago when they arrived in Europe," Marcel Niekus of the University of Groningen, told Discovery News.
The practices probably even went back to Neanderthal times, but not necessarily to the benefit of these now-extinct members of the human family tree.
A prior study in the Journal of Anthropological Science, authored by Fernando Rozzi of France’s National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), suggests that around 30,000 years ago, a person in France might have consumed a Neanderthal child and made a necklace out of its teeth.