A team of archaeologists in Taiwan has been left with some unanswered questions after discovering a female skeleton cradling a baby.
The find was made at the site of a mass grave along with other human remains, according to media reports.
“When it was unearthed, all of the archaeologists and staff members were shocked. Why? Because the mother was looking down at the baby in her hands,” Chu Whei-lee, a curator at Taiwan’s National Museum of Natural Science, told Reuters.
A total of 48 sets of human remains were uncovered at the Taichung area site, which is believed to be the earliest sign thus far of human activity in central Taiwan.
The mother cradling her child was the stand-out find. Archaeologists have not yet given an explanation as to how she and her baby died.
The scientists have unearthed five skeletons of children since beginning the excavation in May 2014. The project took around a year to complete, with carbon dating being used to confirm the age of the remains.
The find comes only months after a construction team located human remains in a residential area.
Workers building an underground sewer line in Hualien, Taiwan, found a complete skeleton and some pieces of pottery in January 2016. After inspection, it was suggested that the skeleton could be that of a young adult, but the gender could not immediately be determined, reports the Taipei Times.
A canine tooth and some finger bones were sent to a lab in Florida for tests to determine the skeleton’s age.
Lin Hsiu-man, who works as a researcher at the National Museum of Prehistory, told the Taipei Times that the pottery shards matched the style of pieces found among people of the Jinpu Culture, which existed between 1,500 and 400 years ago.
In January 2015, researchers reported the discovery of a much older human jawbone off the Taiwanese coast. The find indicated that a previously unknown type of human species may have lived in the region prior to the arrival of homo sapiens around 40,000 years ago, according to Live Science. Studies of the jaw suggest it belonged to a human who could have lived at any time between 10,000 and 190,000 years ago.