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A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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High-Protein Diet May Have Shaped Neanderthals

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Neanderthal high protein diet TEL AVIV, ISRAEL—Scholars from Tel Aviv University say that Neanderthals may have been shorter and stockier than modern humans due to their high-protein diet based upon large animals. Their wider rib cages could have accommodated a larger liver for metabolizing large quantities of protein, and the wider pelvis may have held an enlarged bladder and kidneys to remove the waste products of protein metabolism. “During harsh Ice-Age winters, carbohydrates were scarce and fat was in limited supply. But large game, the typical prey of the Neanderthal, thrived. This situation triggered an evolutionary adaptation to a high-protein diet—an enlarged liver, expanded renal system and their corresponding morphological manifestations. All these contributed to the Neanderthal evolutionary process,” Miki Ben-Dor said in a press release. The team adds that early indigenous Arctic populations that eat a meat-based diet also had enlarged livers and drank a lot of water to process their high-protein diet. For more, go to "Decoding Neanderthal Genetics."

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