In 1993, a strange sight was encountered in a cave in Altamura, southern Italy. created by a sinkhole Lamalunga cave inside, buried in a rock, contained an almost complete human fossilized skeleton.
In addition, the remainscave popcornThe bones were covered with small dot-like marks all over the bones. “Popcorn” appearance can be easily explained by the accumulation of calcite on the surface of the cave floor or whatever is on the surface after it dissolves in rain water.
United States Geological Survey physical scientist Lee Gray BozeIn an interview with “How Stuff Works”, “Cave popcorn usually occurs in wet areas where the cave can flow on the water’s surface.” he said and continued: “With some notable exceptions, many of the longest cave systems tend to be drier, and these dry areas tend to be less ornate. However, cave popcorn is a common feature in wet areas, often showing a wet environment and airflow. Other common environments may contain dripping water; where the drips can cause popcorn to form in an area around the drip zones.”
The popcorn image also helped a research team discover the man’s possible cause of death.
A team examining the body said, “faunal remains found in some of the galleries are usually isolated bony elements accumulated in cave depression areas, suggesting that they were carried and dispersed by water.” he said and added: “This was not the case with the human skeleton, given that it is highly represented and concentrated in a small area. Therefore, we can assume that the skeleton collapsed to the place where it was found after death and the decay of the body.”
The team believes the man probably fell into a sinkhole and got stuck. There he probably died of starvation or thirst before being covered in popcorn and discovered by scientists a hundred thousand years later. However, the Altamura man still had a few surprises.
The skeleton was left where it was, as irreparable damage could be done if disturbed, and scientists began examining the body with on-site observations and photographs of others. An example from the skeleton (part of the scapula) were analyzed, it was found that it was not a Homo sapiens, but supporting earlier theories. They were able to identify a Neanderthal who died between 128,000 and 187,000 years ago.
Further analysis of the man’s teeth by another team in 2020 found wear on the teeth and suggested that he was an adult, if not older, at the time of his unfortunate death.