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Neanderthals at Mealtime: Pass the Meat
Pass the Auroch, Please
Neanderthals living in southwestern France 55,000 to 40,000 years ago mostly ate red meat from extinct ancestors of modern bison, cattle and horses, according to a new study on a large, worn Neanderthal tooth.
The extinct hominids were not above eating every edible bit of an animal, since they were dining for survival, explained Teresa Steele, one of the study's co-authors.
While a steak dinner "is probably the closest modern comparison," Steele said, "remember too that they were consuming all parts of the animals, definitely the bone marrow and probably also the organs, not just the 'prime cuts.'"
The new findings, which have been accepted for publication in the Journal of Human Evolution, also suggest beans, grains and nuts were off the Neanderthal menu.
"We assume that Neanderthals were eating some plant foods, but given the present evidence, these plant foods were not significant sources of protein," explained Steele, an assistant professor of anthropology at the University of California at Davis.