LONDON, Feb. 17 (UPI) -- British scientists say they've found the ancient remains of three humans that appear to have been killed and then butchered for food.
Researchers from the U.K. Natural History Museum say the bones, about 14,700 years old, showed evidence of precision cuts to obtain the maximum amount of meat and that the skulls had been carved into cups and bowls for drinking and eating, the BBC reported Thursday.
The skull cups, found with the other remains in a cave in Somerset, are thought to be the oldest examples in the world and the first evidence of ritual killing and cannibalism in Britain, the researchers said.
Humans were already burying their dead at the time, meaning the remains are most likely the result of premeditated cannibalism, one scientist says.
"Cannibalism would have been a good way of removing groups competing with you and getting food for yourself," NHM paleontologist Chris Stringer says.
"What is more sinister is that these were quite sophisticated hunter gatherers -- very like us," he says.
"They could make tools and painted cave art. They also had quite complex burials for the people they were not eating, treating the dead with reverence."