Neandertals and early modern humans probably had very similar diets

Related Articles

Related Articles

A new international study indicates that Neandertals and early modern humans probably had very similar diets, contradicting the assumption that Neandertals died out because their diet was insufficiently varied.

But modern humans may have had an advantage because they were more mobile and had better connections over longer distances, according to a team headed by Dr. Christoph Wißing at the University of Tübingen. Together with colleagues from the Senckenberg Centre for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment (HEP) in Tübingen, Belgium, France, Spain, Japan and the USA, he compared isotope data from fossil bones of the last Neandertals, early modern humans and animals, drawing new conclusions about the nutrition and migration of human species investigated and the ecosystems of the time. The results of the study have been published in the latest Scientific Reports.

In the Late Pleistocene there were two different species of humans in Europe: the Neandertals and our early modern human ancestors. They coexisted for several thousand years. In the study, the scientists compared stable isotope data from the sites of the Troisième caverne of Goyet, Spy and Scladina in Belgium as well as Lommersum in Germany. Goyet is the only burial site in Europe where the remains of both the last Neandertals and of early modern humans have been found. “It gives us the chance to reconstruct and compare the ecology of both types of humans,” says Christoph Wißing.

The team found that the two species had similar diets, each hunting large mammals such as mammoths and woolly rhinoceros. But it appears to have been the arrival of modern humans which increased the pressure on the slow-breeding mammoth population.

Isotopic analysis suggested the individual mobility history of the modern humans differed considerably within a group. The authors hypothesize that more variable, broader and probably stronger transregional networks existed for modern humans, and that more intensive resource utilization and a more efficient exchange of ideas and possibly people were more typical for the early modern Europeans than for the Neandertals at that time, who appear to have been less mobile.

The researchers found that the Neandertals from Spy were “locals” who hunted most of their prey near the Belgian sites. But the Goyet Neandertals obtained most of their prey outside of the local ecosystem and were therefore classified as non-local. What’s more, the bones of these Neanderthals display evidence of intensive cannibalism. The majority of the Goyet Neandertal bones bear traces of defleshing, disarticulation, and fracturing. This is in contrast with the “local” Neandertals of Spy whose bones show no signs of butchering. It remains unclear where the Neandertals from Goyet originally came from, whether they died at the cave, or if their bones were transported there.

Subscribe to more articles like this by following our Google Discovery feed - Click the follow button on your desktop or the star button on mobile. Subscribe

Universitaet Tübingen

Header Image Credit : Image Credit : Anagoria

- Advertisement -

Download the HeritageDaily mobile application on iOS and Android

More on this topic


Drones Map High Plateaus Basin in Moroccan Atlas to Understand Human Evolution

Researchers from the Centro Nacional de Investigación sobre la Evolución Humana (CENIEH) have been using drones to create high-resolution aerial images and topographies to compile maps of the High Plateaus Basin in Moroccan Atlas.

The Kerguelen Oceanic Plateau Sheds Light on the Formation of Continents

How did the continents form? Although to a certain extent this remains an open question, the oceanic plateau of the Kerguelen Islands may well provide part of the answer, according to a French-Australian team led by the Géosciences Environnement Toulouse laboratory.

Ancient Societies Hold Lessons for Modern Cities

Today's modern cities, from Denver to Dubai, could learn a thing or two from the ancient Pueblo communities that once stretched across the southwestern United States. For starters, the more people live together, the better the living standards.

Volubilis – The Ancient Berber City

Volubilis is an archaeological site and ancient Berber city that many archaeologists believe was the capital of the Kingdom of Mauretania.

Pella – Birthplace of Alexander The Great

Pella is an archaeological site and the historical capital of the ancient kingdom of Macedon.

New Argentine fossils uncover history of celebrated conifer group

Newly unearthed, surprisingly well-preserved conifer fossils from Patagonia, Argentina, show that an endangered and celebrated group of tropical West Pacific trees has roots in the ancient supercontinent that once comprised Australia, Antarctica and South America, according to an international team of researchers.

High-tech CT reveals ancient evolutionary adaptation of extinct crocodylomorphs

The tree of life is rich in examples of species that changed from living in water to a land-based existence.

Fish fossils become buried treasure

Rare metals crucial to green industries turn out to have a surprising origin. Ancient global climate change and certain kinds of undersea geology drove fish populations to specific locations.

Archaeologists Discover Viking Toilet in Denmark

Archaeologists excavating a settlement on the Stevns Peninsula in Denmark suggests they have discovered a toilet from the Viking Age.

Innovation by ancient farmers adds to biodiversity of the Amazon, study shows

Innovation by ancient farmers to improve soil fertility continues to have an impact on the biodiversity of the Amazon, a major new study shows.

Popular stories