OXFORD researchers have unearthed the body of a shark attack victim – 3,000 years after his death.

The discovery in Japan, the earliest direct evidence for a shark attack on a human, was made by Oxford researchers Julia White and Rick Schulting.

A research team has recreated what happened using archaeological science and forensic techniques.

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The researchers said: “We were initially flummoxed by what could have caused at least 790 deep, serrated injuries to this man.

“There were so many injuries and yet he was buried in the community burial ground.

“The injuries were mainly confined to the arms, legs, and front of the chest and abdomen.

“Through a process of elimination, we ruled out human conflict and more commonly reported animal predators or scavengers.”

The researchers were investigating evidence for violent trauma on the skeletal remains of prehistoric hunter-gatherers at Kyoto University.

They came upon No 24, an adult male riddled with traumatic injuries.

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With archaeological cases of shark reports extremely rare, they turned to forensic shark attack cases for clues, and worked with George Burgess, director emeritus of the Florida Program for Shark Research.

A reconstruction of the attack was then put together, and the team concluded that the man died more than 3,000 years ago, between 1370 to 1010 BC.

The distribution of wounds strongly suggest the victim was alive at the time of the attack, with his left hand sheared off, possibly a defence wound.

The body had been recovered soon after the attack and buried at a cemetery.

Excavation records show he was also missing his right leg, and his left leg was placed on top of his body.

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The researchers added: “Given the injuries, he was clearly the victim of a shark attack.

“The man may well have been fishing with companions at the time, since he was recovered quickly.

“Based on the character and distribution of the tooth marks, the most likely species responsible was either a tiger or white shark.”

The research was published in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports.

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