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Study Suggests Neanderthals Ate Fresh Meat

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Neanderthal carnivore dietLEIPZIG, GERMANY—Cosmos Magazine reports that a new analysis of nitrogen and carbon isotopes in the amino acids found in Neanderthal collagen conducted by Klervia Jaouen of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology indicates the extinct human relatives ate a diet based on fresh meat from large mammals. The collagen samples were obtained from Neanderthal remains uncovered at Les Cottés and Grotte du Renne, which are both located in France. The individual whose remains were recovered at Les Cottés ate mostly reindeer and horses, Jaouen said, while the one found at Grotte du Renne—an infant—nursed from a meat-eating mother. It had been previously suggested that the nitrogen isotope ratios found in Neanderthal remains could indicate a diet of fish, mushrooms, putrid carrion, or fermentation arising from rotting meat. The new tests, however, point to a monotonous diet of herbivores, although Neanderthal individuals may have occasionally eaten other types of food. For more, go to “A Traditional Neanderthal Home.”

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