DEMBECHA, ETHIOPIA—In a startling find that contributes significantly to the understanding of modern man’s evolutionary development, University of Edinburgh archaeologists working in Ethiopia’s Afar Region announced Wednesday that they have uncovered the preserved remains of the last human to die happy.
According to the researchers, carbon dating concluded that the fossilized skeleton is that of a Paleolithic man—nicknamed “Felix” by the team of scientists responsible for the find—who died perfectly contented and unencumbered by regret roughly 30,000 years ago.
“It’s truly incredible—Felix unequivocally demonstrates that early humans were still capable of dying completely fulfilled as late as the Upper Paleolithic,” said lead researcher Evgenia Halytsky, who went on to say that scientists had previously believed any such trait had disappeared many millennia earlier. “The vast majority of research points to our species almost never experiencing even a day of serenity for the last million years, so Felix totally upends any of our previous notions about human evolution.”
“To think that only 300 centuries ago, a human being actually died happy,” Halytsky added.
Researchers said that a spectral analysis of the remains indicated wear in Felix’s lower extremities consistent with a long, confident gait. Additionally, forensic odontology tests revealed that the man had never grinded his teeth, stunning scientists who had until now accepted that this behavior had become ubiquitous at roughly the same time humans developed abstract thought and the capacity to project into the future.
Experts also said that measurements of the man’s upper thoracic spine demonstrated that he had walked with his chest thrust forward optimistically and that his vertebrae were completely absent of any curvature that would have indicated his having gone through life with his head held in a drooping manner or with his eyes cast to the ground.
But Halytsky told reporters that what is perhaps most exciting about the find is how it sheds light on a series of mysterious and, until now, incomprehensible prehistoric cave paintings discovered in 2009 less than a mile away from the new site.
“We are now almost certain that the figure depicted in the paintings leading successful hunts and cheerfully brokering peaceful resolutions among his fellow tribesmen—who was initially regarded as some kind of mythological being—is in fact Felix,” Halytsky said. “This also lends support to the theory that Felix died having been fully aware of the extent of his positive impact on his society, which appears to have been substantial.”
“Some of the drawings illustrate him enjoying a family life more loving, affectionate, and tolerant than any we’ve ever seen throughout prehistory or otherwise, leading us to believe that his heart was overflowing with his kinsfolk’s love when he passed away,” Halytsky continued.
However, enthusiasm for the recent findings has reportedly been tempered by a competing theory that Felix was only content at the time of his death because he had decided to kill himself and end his agony all at once.