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The Oldest Murder Mystery Has Finally Been Solved by Scientists

The Oldest Murder Mystery
pic credit: syfy.com



Around 3,000 years ago, a man was brutally murdered in Japan. When archaeologists discovered his bones, they discovered around 800 traumatic lesions. And that wasn't the worst of it; his left hand and right leg were missing entirely. 




Who or what would mutilate a person in such a heinous manner? 


Scientists have finally cracked the code to this 3,000-year-old riddle. When the victim's remains were discovered, archaeologists gave him the name Tsukumo Number 24.


The bones were radiocarbon dated, and the individual lived between 1370 and 1010 BC, according to the results. This occurred during Japan's Jōmon period of history. The word Jōmon stems from the decorations on ceramics from this historical period and means 'cord marked' or 'printed.' 


Japan's population was neolithic hunter-gatherers throughout this time. The body was discovered in the Seto Inland Sea, where there were plenty of ocean-based food sources. Although the Jōmon period was a nomadic period, evidence has been discovered suggesting people were beginning to harvest from the soil.


Basic stone and wooden tools were used throughout this time period. They hunted using knives and axes, as well as bows and arrows. When the study of Number 24's wounds is examined later, this will be crucial. 


Archaeologists had no idea what to make of the mangled skeleton when it was discovered. They initially assumed that the body had been scavenged by animals after the man died. However, upon closer examination, the remains were discovered to be undisturbed in their resting place.


Whatever happened to Number 24 occurred throughout his lifetime. Researchers wondered if this was one of the most heinous killings ever committed. Unfortunately, murder cases usually go cold after a few weeks, and Number 24's murder took place nearly 3,000 years ago. 


Scientists were left with more questions than answers after further examination of the bones. Who could have carried out such a heinous crime? They couldn't explain why Number 24's arm and leg were missing because some of the lesions in the bones were deep. 




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Was this a vengeance act? 


Perhaps a nasty beast hunted down Number 24 and devoured him before his body was discovered by his people. Scientists from Oxford University and Kyoto University have finally figured out who killed Number 24, and the method they used to figure it out is insane. 


Number 24 was brutally slain by another person, according to one of the early theories about what happened. There was strife, as there has been throughout human history. People in Japan were vying for resources, and rival communities would have sprung up around the Seto Inland Sea. 


This isn't to say that the various communities were always at odds, but it was unavoidable that conflict would occur at some point.



As scientists inspected the skeleton more closely, it became clear that the 790 deep serrated lacerations on the skeleton were not caused by human-on-human violence. It would display true animosity if an opponent stabbed Number 24 790 times. 


This would not have happened in a war since the assailant would have finished causing that many wounds by the time the battle was done. Similarly, even if this was a heinous murder, it seems implausible that someone, or even a group of individuals, would stab a victim 790 times. 


It also appears doubtful that this was an attempted assassination because, while Number 24 was buried, it was not a luxurious one.


There were no objects found in the grave, implying that Number 24 was not particularly wealthy or influential. An assassination of this magnitude on a regular individual appears improbable. Human fighting may also be ruled out because the wounds in the bones were not consistent with the tools and weaponry of the historical period. 


Why would someone take Number 24's left hand and right leg, even if it was a human? It didn't make any sense. Everything pointed to something other as the cause of the man's death. As a result, homicide was ruled out. This indicated that the assailant had to be an animal.


But what kind of beast could rip 790 serrated gashes through a fully grown adult human's bones? The body of Number 24 was discovered, together with other bodies from the time period, in the Tsukumo Shell-mound cemetery site. 


The shell-pile component of the name actually refers to a mound of shells, along with other trash, that was used to bury the deceased. Another clue to what happened to number 24 could be found in the shells themselves. As experts studied the bones of Number 24, they encountered certain difficulties.





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On paper, in a two-dimensional area, the customary methods of recording and classifying the bones, as well as the damage to them, were used. Number 24's wounds, on the other hand, were so numerous that seeing the remnants was difficult. Better technologies and a more holistic approach to the remains were required by the project's researchers. 


They chose to employ 3D scanning, which is a relatively new technique. They might recreate the skeleton and more quickly pinpoint the position and size of each puncture in Number 24's bones by scanning each individual bone and then uploading the data to a computer.


As a result of this, a new picture emerged. The scientists were coming closer to figuring out who or what was responsible for Number 24's terrible murder. The injuries were largely focused on the arms, legs, and the front of the body along the chest and abdomen when researchers looked at the bones as a whole. 


In addition, something with serrated edges caused the lesions. They used this information to rule out the possibility of Number 24 being attacked by common land predators in the area.


But this is when things started to get interesting. The experts finally came to a conclusion based on the distribution of perforations on the skeleton and all of the material acquired from the burial. They had figured out who the murderer was. Everything pointed to an apex predator. Something to be both feared and revered. 


It should come as no surprise that people living along the Seto Inland Sea spend a lot of time fishing and harvesting resources in the ocean. In reality, fish and other seafood were almost certainly a major part of the diet of the people in the area.


Could it have been a predator from the water, since scientists ruled out terrestrial animals and scavengers as the killers of Number 24? As it turns out, this was exactly the situation. The suspect had been recognized at long last. 


The assailant was a shark. Sharks were present in the vicinity, as evidenced by the serrated edges along with the lesions in the bones. This indicates that Number 24 was killed and dismembered by one or more sharks. Scientists needed to figure out what kind of shark perpetrated the heinous crime and whether it was a single or numerous sharks.


Even though a shark can have hundreds of teeth, 790 perforations on a skeleton is a lot, therefore there could have been more than one attacker. Scientists determined the shark's species based on the size and shape of the gashes in the bone. 


The tiger shark was the first suspect. These fish can grow to be 16 feet long and weigh over 1,000 pounds. They also have rows upon rows of serrated teeth that closely resemble the lesions on Number 24's bones. The other suspect is, without a doubt, the world's most feared predator. 


It is the shark that haunts every ocean traveler's dreams and is responsible for the most human attacks of any shark.


The great white shark was another suspected assailant of Number 24. This predator can grow to be 20 feet long and weigh more than 4,000 pounds. Whether the killer shark was a great white or a tiger shark, it was evident why Number 24 was killed so brutally. 


Scientists also found that there may have been a feeding frenzy following Number 24's initial strike. The number of bites and the tearing apart of the body suggests that many sharks attacked the victim after he was first assaulted. The feeding frenzy may have resulted in the loss of Number 24's left hand as well as the amputation of his right leg.


Scientists discovered one more horrible aspect about the man's death through the bone study. Something both startling and frightening. The wounds inflicted on Number 24 were all perimortem wounds. 


This indicates that they took place while Number 24 was still alive. Obviously, the man died as a result of the shark attack, but the fact that all of his injuries occurred before he died is concerning. This indicates that the man was swimming in the water when he was attacked and that other members of the fishing trip had to get him out quickly afterward, or while the shark was still feeding on him.


It's hardly impossible that Number 24 was still alive when he was able to break away from the shark. As blood streamed from the 790 puncture holes and the stumps where his left hand and right leg used to be, he was most likely in shock. 


It's a gory explanation, but it's the one that all of the evidence gathered by scientists points to. Because there are no signs of healing or harm to living bone, the researchers believe the bites occurred while the man was still alive. 


This indicates that the individual died before his body could mend the wounds or allow them to worsen. As a result, the attack happened, and death came soon after.


The scientists went one step further and proposed that Number 24 had been assaulted from beneath while on the surface. He was most likely bitten in the legs first, and then the shark grabbed his left hand and tore it off as he tried to fight himself. 


Number 24 most likely passed out from his wounds after the initial onslaught and the loss of his hand. Number 24 was able to be pulled away from the shark by the other individuals in the water with him. However, the absence of the left hand and right leg from the grave suggests that the shark swam away with them in its stomach.


Number 24's body was buried in such a way that scientists were able to unearth so much information 3,000 years after the man was savagely murdered by the shark. The bones were extremely well-preserved thanks to the calcium carbonate in the burial shells. 


It shielded them from decomposition, which would have rendered the examination of the bones by scientists from Oxford and Kyoto difficult. This 3,000-year-old murder case has finally been solved thanks to contemporary technology and the perseverance of the scientists who investigated the remains.


A shark, possibly a tiger or a big white, was the murderer. Number 24 was still alive when the shark attacked him; he lost his left hand and right leg, most likely while attempting to battle the shark; and his people were able to rescue his body before the creature, or animals, tore it apart and consumed him. This is the first time a shark has ever attacked a human.

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