Teeth remains indicate Neanderthals’ meat-only diet is a myth

December 28th, 2010 - 11:33 am ICT by ANI  

London, Dec 28 (ANI): Neanderthals were always thought to be non-vegetarians who enjoyed nothing but meat. However, a new find indicates otherwise.

Discoveries from cave sites in Iraq and Belgium indicate that our primitive ancestors not only ate a lot of greens but were able to cook them as well, reports the Daily Mail.

Analysis of fossilised teeth have revealed that their diets consisted of beans, roots and tubers and palm dates.

Many of the plant remains had undergone physical changes that make scientists believe they were cooked before they were eaten.

“Our results indicate that Neanderthals made use of the diverse plant foods available in their local environment and transformed them into more easily digestible foodstuffs, in part through cooking them, suggesting an overall sophistication in Neanderthal dietary regimes,” said Dr Dolores Piperno, from the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC.

Excavations carried out as part of the Gibraltar Caves Project had revealed that seafood figured in the Neanderthal diet.

Teams have found hearth embers, shells, animal bones and the remains of marine species in the caves.

An impression of the Neanderthals’ coastal foraging habits and diet was provided by the discovery of fossiled bones and shells from dolphins, monk seals and mussels alongside the more expected bear, ibex, red deer and wild boar.

The find is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. (ANI)

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