Neanderthals caught and cooked crabs 90,000 years in the past

Neanderthals caught and cooked crabs 90,000 years in the past

What kinds of meals could be served at a Paleolithic Interval buffet for Neanderthals? Fruits, vegetation, and nuts for positive, however the former inhabitants of Gruta de Figueira Brava in Portugal would have additionally anticipated numerous seafood, particularly brown crab (Most cancers pagurus).

“Neanderthals in Gruta da Figueira Brava had been consuming loads of different marine sources, like limpets, mussels, clams, fish, in addition to different terrestrial animals, akin to deer, goats, aurochs and tortoises,” archaeologist Mariana Nabais from the Catalan Institute of Human Paleoecology and Social Evolution tells PopSci.

[Related: Skull research sheds light on human-Neanderthal interbreeding.]

Nabais focuses on zooarchaeology, or the examine of animal stays which might be discovered at archaeological websites. She is the lead creator on a examine revealed February 7 within the journal Frontiers in Environmental Archaeology that presents proof that Nednderthals had been cooking and consuming crabs 90,000 years in the past.

She and her group studied the deposits of stone instruments, shells, and bones uncovered at Figueira Brava, south of the capital metropolis of Lisbon. Whereas they discovered all kinds of shellfish within the deposits, remnants of brown crab had been the most typical within the deposits. Neanderthals presumably used low tide swimming pools through the summer time to reap the crustaceans, based on the group.

Many of the crabs had been adults which might yield roughly seven ounces of meat. “I used to be very shocked in regards to the surprising great amount of crab stays, and their giant measurement, much like these we eat at the moment,” says Nabais.

The group regarded on the patterns of injury on the crab’s shells and claws and didn’t discover any marks from rodents or proof that birds had damaged into the shells. When in search of indicators of butchery and percussion marks from instruments, they discovered fracture patterns within the shells that point out that the shells had been deliberately damaged as much as entry the meat.

[Related: Why everything eventually becomes a crab.]

Burns had been discovered on about eight % of the crab shells, indicating that Neanderthals had been roasting the crabs along with harvesting them. Evaluating the black burns on the shells with research of different mollusks confirmed that the crabs had been heated to 572 to 932 levels Fahrenheit, a typical temperature for cooking.

“Our outcomes add an additional nail to the coffin of the out of date notion that Neanderthals had been primitive cave dwellers who may barely scrape a dwelling off scavenged big-game carcasses,” Nabais stated in a press release.

In accordance with Nabais, it’s inconceivable to know why Neanderthals selected to reap brown crabs or in the event that they connected any significance to consuming them, however consuming them would have given added dietary advantages. This examine was restricted to observational and never experimental knowledge, however one other examine Nabais’ co-authored has been submitted for publication and validated the inferences made on this paper.

“The origin and future of the Neanderthal lineage stays one of many key analysis questions addressed by paleoanthropology and paleolithic archaeology,” Nabais says. “Our analysis advances our data of the Neanderthals, particularly close to those that lived in southern Europe.”