ONE day in 1922, near Broken Hill, Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), a skull was found. When it came to the attention of the British Museum, the curators were pleased. It was, in fact, a Neanderthal skull, and Neanderthal bones did not exactly come ten-a-penny. But the Broken Hill skull was special for other reasons. On the left side of the cranium was a small, perfectly round hole. At first it was assumed that it had been made by a spear, or other sharp implement, but further investigation proved that this had not been the case. When a skull is struck by a relatively low-velocity projectile – such as an arrow, or spear – it produces what are known as radial cracks or striations; that is, minute hairline fractures running away from the place of impact. As there were no radial fractures on the Neanderthal skull, it was unanimously concluded that the projectile must have had a far, far greater velocity than an arrow or spear. But what? Another mystery was that the right side of the cranium had, in the words of one anthropologist, “been blown away”. Further research also proved that that the right side of the cranium had been “blown away” from the inside out. In short, whatever had hit the Broken Hill Neanderthal on the left side of his head had passed through it with such force that it had caused the right side to explode. via Shields Gazette.
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