Neanderthals live mostly with meat, long suspected, but not conclusively proven. Now, a new study published Monday in PNAS, provides molecular support for the theory of their predilection.
Even he postulates that Neanderthals are among the greatest predators in their sphere, even after the arrival of anatomically modern humans among them.
It is believed that the earliest ancestors of humans have existed on plants – very resembling the largest monkeys today, the gorilla. However, the early vegetarians among the Hominins disappeared and disappeared while the meat-eaters continued to this day.
The Mammoths seem to have become something at the time of the little Australopithelians who lived 3-4 million years ago and ate everything that was moving or not moving. The burial of dead animals removed from other predators seems to have been their very practice.
At the time of much higher Homo erectus the taste for the meat was firmly fortified, although it is not certain that these early Hominins skillfully caught or had their dinner. It is also possible to have cast, not hunted, big game, added.
It is clear that after a few million years, the hereditary hominin in front of the Neanderthals and modern humans has become a craving for meat, so we will both continue this habit.
The question is what part of the diet is the meat? Now the latest study shows that for Neanderthals this proportion is really "very great".
Dead mammoth or sponge?
Until recently, the evidence was prone to the raw side. For example, bones of slaughtered animals (as they say in crane, "zoo-archeological evidence") are found in Neanderthal areas.
A recent study postulates that Neanderthal has developed a thickened chest – compared to our gracile Homo sapiens – to adapt their enlarged liver and kidneys for their heavy protein diet. Weapons used by the Neanderthal, probably to have dinner, and not each other, or vicious carrots, have also been identified. A recent study even suggests that they may have developed copies that they could throw away from, just by simply pressing the spear into their prey close.
But the most recent, conclusive evidence comes from the molecular analysis of nitrogen isotopes found in collagen, a protein that is found in two Neanderthal sites in France: Les Cottés and Grotte du Renne. This is not much of the sample, the statistics, but the results match well with the other evidence.
Isotopes are variants of atoms that have different weights because they have a different number of neutrons. For example, proteins – which contain nitrogen – may have nitrogen-14 and heavier nitrogen-15 (with an additional neutron). The proportions of the two isotopes of nitrogen may be informative.
Nitrogen-14 N-nitrogen ratios in Neanderthal bones is similar to that of today's great predators like the wolves. This definitely suggests, says Claire Jawen of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and the international team that Neanderthals ate mostly meat with little vegetables on the side.
It means that the Neanderthals exist for several hundred thousand years and had a number of morphologies and, probably, a number of behaviors. Note, for example, among the modern people the morphological differences between Kalahari and the northern European and the dietary differences in different countries.
Another study of Neanderthal Coprolites (fossilized faeces) in 2014 does not argue about the meat habit, but highlights the plant element of the Neanderthal diet: scientists found stigmastanol B5 in the dog, which could only be obtained there by eating roots, berries, and nuts.
The main thing is that the Neanderthals are apparently omnipotent, like us, but they place much more emphasis on the meat than we are inclined to.
So, what kind of animals feed Neanderthals on the basis of isotopes?
Previous studies have shown that mammoth and freshwater fish produce a high nitrogen ratio. The same goes for eating rotten meat, baby food, cooked food (there is a raging debate about whether Neanderthals could control the fire, not just that they used fire) and mushrooms. It seems that the consumption of mushrooms can lead to high levels of isotopic nitrogen.
The team adds that archaeological evidence supports reindeer hunting, but not fishing, and one of the two places they tested did not blow the Mammoth cuisine: "The results of nitrogen isotopes supported Neandertals' position in the food network as consumers of grazing animals. and the high isotope ratio in bone marrow collagen can only be explained by the consumption of grazing animals. "
In short, we do not know exactly what they ate and this study is not conclusive evidence. But that does not strengthen the position that Neanderthals were not vegetarians, but have broken up much meat – up to 80% of their diet, some scientists say. If they ate plants, it was the steak topping.