Palaeoloxodon antiquus, or “Straight Tusked Elephants” are distant European cousins of our Mammuthus columbi, and now it appears, with little doubt, that early humans were eating them in England during the Hoxnian interglacial 420,000 years ago. For the sake of easy arithmetic, estimating Clovis as 14,000 years ago, that’s 30 times older than the best confirmed dates for the occupation of North America. These would be pre-Acheulian (you know, the handaxe guys) hominins, i.e., near the end of the people called Homo erectus or possibly heidelbergensis?
From the University of Southampton:
Excavation revealed a deep sequence of deposits containing the elephant remains, along with numerous flint tools and a range of other species such as; wild aurochs, extinct forms of rhinoceros and lion, Barbary macaque, beaver, rabbit, various forms of vole and shrew, and a diverse assemblage of snails. These remains confirm that the deposits date to a warm period of climate around 420,000 years ago, the so-called Hoxnian interglacial, when the climate was probably slightly warmer than the present day.
Dr Wenban-Smith comments: “Although there is no direct evidence of how this particular animal met its end, the discovery of flint tools close to the carcass confirm butchery for its meat, probably by a group of at least four individuals.”