90 Miles From Tyranny : Archaeologists have found 50,000-year-old Neanderthal poop

Monday, June 30, 2014

Archaeologists have found 50,000-year-old Neanderthal poop

A team of archaeologists in Spain have really stepped in it this time, but that’s a good thing. They’ve uncovered what is believed to be the oldest fossilized human poo. Five whole piles of it.

The Neanderthal coprolites (a generic but shapely specimen is pictured above) are around 50,000 years old, which lines up nicely with the age of the dig site at El Salt in southeastern Spain. It’s known to have been occupied by Neanderthals for thousands of years.

So why are scientists so excited about finding fossilized Neanderthal poo? Because it provides valuable insight into their daily diets. Geoarchaechaeologist Ainara Sistiaga identified chemical signatures in the coprolites discovered at El Salt. She wasn’t able to identify specific foods, but noted that there’s evidence of various berries, nuts, and tubers.

Scientists were already fairly certain that Neanderthals weren’t just carnivorous creatures. Fossilized plant remains have been found in several dig sites before, though their mere presence wasn’t enough to confirm that they were actually being eaten. Microscopic fossils of plant matter embedded in the calculus from ancient teeth seemed to indicate that Neanderthals ate plenty of vegetables, seeds, grains, and fruits.

But did they? Technically it was still possible that they were just chewing on those things, and that’s what some skeptics thought may have been going on. Like us, Neanderthals tended to use their teeth as tools — not always for just eating.

Now that evidence of plants from the other end of the system has been found , however, it’s pretty clear that our extinct ancestors were ingesting plant matter with some regularity. Their diets were similar to ours, they used tools, they even intentionally ...


1 comment:

  1. Any group of humanoids, with a female subsection of the species, will not be purely carnivorous. Now, males will, sometimes, eat other things, when no choice is available. Just as often because green stuff got in the meat as they are pulling the kill to a safer spot to butcher, cook, and eat it. But females will find these things on purpose. It's just how that works.

    Sort of tongue in cheek... sort of not.


Test Word Verification