Neanderthal diet more varied than previously thought
|New evidence challenges the hypothesis of evolutionary advantage of modern humans|
over Neanderthals on basis of dietary choice [Credit: WikiCommons]
The hypothesis on dietary differences between modern humans and Neanderthals is based on the study of animal bones found in caves occupied by these two types of hominids, which can provide clues about their diet, but it is always difficult to exclude large predators living at the same time as being responsible for at least part of this accumulation. One such case occurs in a cave located on the northern slopes of the Caucasus Mountains, called Kudaro 3.
|The map shows the location of the Kudaro 3 cave in the Caucasian Mountains|
[Credit: H. Bocherens/University of Tübingen]
To test this hypothesis, the possible contribution of marine fish in the diet of these carnivores was evaluated using carbon, nitrogen and sulphur isotopes in faunal bone collagen, comparing these isotopic signatures between predators and their potential prey. The results indicate that salmons were neither part of the diet of cave bears (they were purely vegetarian, like their European counterparts) or cave lions (they were predators of herbivores from arid areas).
“This study provides indirect support to the idea that Middle Palaeolithic Hominins, probably Neanderthals, were able to consume fish when it was available, and that therefore, the prey choice of Neanderthals and modern humans was not fundamentally different,” says Hervé Bocherens. He assumes that more than diet differences were certainly involved in the demise of the Neanderthals.
Source: Universitaet Tübingen [September 17, 2013]