Study: 50,000-year-old poop proves Neanderthals ate their veggies – chicagotribune.com

Study: 50,000-year-old poop proves Neanderthals ate their veggies

El Salt

A photo of the El Salt excavation site where researchers unearthed and analyzed 50,000-year-old Neanderthal feces. (Ainara Sistiaga / June 25, 2014)

 

 

As gross as it sounds, samples of the world’s oldest known human feces are offering scientists new insight into the gastronomic behavior of our extinct, meat-loving cousins, the Neanderthals.

In a study published Monday in the journal PLOS One, researchers say an analysis of 50,000-year-old coprolites discovered in Spain suggests Neanderthals supplemented their carnivorous diet with a “significant” amount of vegetation.

The study is the latest to argue against the long-held view that Neanderthals ate large, land-roaming herbivores exclusively and ignored plants and fish as food sources.

Last year, another group of researchers examined the tartar on Neanderthal teeth and concluded that the hardened calculus showed evidence of plant consumption.

In this latest study, researchers scraped remnants of poop from the floor of Neanderthal living areas at the El Salt archaeological site near the Mediterranean port of Alicante, and analyzed it for two specific biomarkers.

Using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, researchers studied the powdered samples for traces of stanols and sterols, lipids that are formed in the intestines when gut bacteria act on plant and animal matter. via Study: 50,000-year-old poop proves Neanderthals ate their veggies – chicagotribune.com.

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