Monday, October 21, 2013

Is This the Stomach-Turning Truth About What the Neanderthals Ate? By Robin McKee.

Is this the stomach-turning truth about what the Neanderthals ate? By Robin McKee. The Observer, October 19, 2013.

Having the stomach for it: a contribution to Neanderthal diets? By Laura T. Buck, and Chris B. Stringer. Quaternary Science Reviews, published online September 29, 2013.


Due to the central position of diet in determining ecology and behaviour, much research has been devoted to uncovering Neanderthal subsistence strategies. This has included indirect studies inferring diet from habitat reconstruction, ethnographic analogy, or faunal assemblages, and direct methods, such as dental wear and isotope analyses. Recently, studies of dental calculus have provided another rich source of dietary evidence, with much potential. One of the most interesting results to come out of calculus analyses so far is the suggestion that Neanderthals may have been eating non-nutritionally valuable plants for medicinal reasons. Here we offer an alternative hypothesis for the occurrence of non-food plants in Neanderthal calculus based on the modern human ethnographic literature: the consumption of herbivore stomach contents.