Next time your kid turns their nose up at vegetables, tell them they are so easy to eat, even cavemen did it. So, how did researchers find out the dietary menu for Neanderthals? Well, it involved analyzing fossilized fecal matter. Who knew corn could fossilize?
MIT and the University of La Laguna teamed up to analyze the fecal matter, and the results were published this week in PLOS One. Before, it was theorized that Neanderthals ate a mostly meat-based diet. No veggies for them according to the older research. That changes today with cavemen evidently making use of the first food pyramid.
What did the full menu consist of? Meat, berries, nuts and root vegetables thrown in. Before you give them an A for living a healthy lifestyle, scientists have found evidence of parasites in the plant matter. Then again, have you seen the list of pesticides we use on our fruits and vegetables. Parasites or whatever it is Monsanto is spraying on that crop? Tough choice.
Lead author Ainara Sistiaga talked to the BBC about the discovery. “If you find it in the feces, you are sure that it was ingested. This molecular fossil is perfect to try to know the proportion of both food sources in a Neanderthal meal.”
If you’re curious as to how old the fecal matter was studied, it clocked in at 50,000 years old. That predates Homo sapiens fecal matter found in Oregon that is 37,700 years old. See kids, science is fun.
So, lesson learned? Even neanderthals were putting down vegetables. If they can do it, it may be time to put down the box of cookies and join the party.