From University of Leiden at ScienceDaily:
Plants were an important part of the menu of Neanderthals who lived in the warmer Mediterranean regions of Eurasia between 180,000 and 30,000 years ago. But paleoanthropologists had for a long time assumed that the same did not apply in colder regions such as the Mammoth steppes. The Mammoth steppe, a region of steppe tundra almost completely devoid of trees, was the dominant landscape from Central Europe to East Asia during the cold periods of the Pleistocene era. Neanderthals in these areas were thought to have been carnivores, eating virtually only the flesh of large wild animals. This very limited diet made this hominid species vulnerable and may well have contributed to their becoming extinct, anthropologists reasoned.
Leiden archaeologist Robert Power discovered that Neanderthals must have consumed regularly plants as food even in this cold and dry environment. ‘The Mammoth steppe is an environment that we don’t really understand because it no longer exists due to climate change and megafauna extinction. It may well be that these ancient grasslands were far more useful to Neanderthals than we thought.’
Now get this:
[Archaeologist Robert ] Power: ‘One of the big lessons of my work on Neanderthals was that the only reason we find the result surprising is that we expect Neanderthals to resemble modern human hunter gatherers in the way they foraged for food, but they didn’t. In the past we saw them as primitive cavemen with very basic behaviour, but now we have updated our view and see them as very modern. But that doesn’t mean we can afford to pigeonhole Neanderthals into our own particular version of humanity. They had their own unique pattern.’ More.
But what does this latter paragraph mean? All humans are omnivores and we eat what we can find, anything from honey ants to mushrooms, squirrels, and berries. The “unique pattern” is whatever turns up.
It sounds as though Power needs to reassure the excitable that Neanderthals are somehow different even when they aren’t, particularly.
Now, if it turned out that Neanderthals were obligate carnivores or herbivores, that would be different…
See also: Neanderthal Man: The long-lost relative turns up again, this time with documents
A deep and abiding need for Neanderthals to be stupid. Why?
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