Escargot may be known as a French delicacy, but it was ancient humans living in modern-day Spain that ate roasted snails thousands of years ago.
According to archaeologists, Paleolithic humans living in caves in southern Spain ate roasted land snails around 30,000 years ago. The discovery comes as a team was investigating remains at the Cova de la Barriada site. They found snails made up a decent portion of the diet of these early humans.
“Large accumulations of snails were discovered in shallow pits at the site. Our investigations determined that these had been roasted – the earliest evidence to show that snails had formed part of the human diet,” said Javier Fernandez-Lopez de Pablo, of the Tarragona-based Institut Catala de Paleoecolgia Humana i Evolucio Social (IPHES) according to Telegraph.
The team ended up finding hundreds of burnt snail shells in several fireplaces, along with tools.
The roasted snails aren’t thought to have made up a significant portion of the ancient humans’ diet, but they were good sources of several vitamins including vitamin A and B12.
The study, published in this week’s Plos One, shows snails were eaten in Spain long before other sites throughout the Mediterranean.
As for why snails suddenly became a food staple, researchers aren’t sure yet. Humans were changing quite a bit around this time. Larger gatherings of people could have prompted them to look for additional food sources.
Whatever the case, people today can feel comfortable adding snails to their paleo diets. Now eating like a caveman includes at least one delicacy.