Early humans had a diet similar to the Neanderthals. We did not eat as much fish as previously thought, according to this study.
The writer of this article assumes that the “Out of Africa” theory is correct, which is a shortcoming of the article, but not the academic study, which was focused on diet.
Did Neanderthals die out because of their Paleo diet? New evidence suggests competition for meat with early humans led to their downfall
Scientists have new clues to what happened to the Neanderthals, who lived 300,000 years before suddenly vanishing.
A study of early human fossils found our ancestors dined mostly on mammoth and raw plants, creating a battle for food that Neanderthals ultimately lost.
Research has previously suggested that early humans had a more varied diet than Neanderthals, fishing for their food as well hunting and gathering across the plains.
But the new analysis shows that our ancestors rarely ate fish, preferring a diet very similar to that of their ancient cousins.
The scientists, from from the Senckenberg Centre in Tübingen, southwest Germany, were surprised to find that the proportion of plants in the diet of the anatomically modern humans was far higher than in similar Neanderthal finds.
Mammoths, on the other hand, appear to have been one of the primary sources of meat in both species.
The first homo sapiens reached Europe around 43,000 years ago, replacing the Neanderthals there approximately 3,000 years later.
Study lead author Professor Hervé Bocherens said: ‘Many studies examine the question of what led to this displacement – one hypothesis postulates that the diet of the anatomically modern humans was more diverse and flexible and often included fish.’
Coauthor Dr Dorothée Drucker added: ‘According to our results, Neanderthals and the early modern humans were in direct competition in regard to their diet, as well – and it appears that the Neanderthals drew the short straw in this contest.’
The researchers studied the dietary habits of early modern man using the oldest know fossils from the Buran Kaya caves on the Crimean Peninsula in the Ukraine.
‘In the course of this study, we examined the finds of early humans in the context of the local fauna,’ said study coauthor Dr Dorothée Drucker.
‘Until now, all analyses of the diet of early modern humans were based on isolated discoveries; therefore, they are very difficult to interpret.’
In order to reconstruct our ancestors’ menu – despite the lack of a fossil dietary record – the team measured the ratios of stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes in the bones of the early humans.
They also measured the presence of these isotopes in fossils of local potential prey such as Saiga, horses, and deer.
So, I suppose the bottom line here is to eat meat and vegetables because that’s what our ancient ancestors ate and we’ve evolved to flourish on the same diet.