To meat or not to meat? New perspectives on Neanderthal ecology.

Bibliographic Collection: 
Publication Type: Journal Article
Authors: Fiorenza, Luca; Benazzi, Stefano; Henry, Amanda G; Salazar-García, Domingo C; Blasco, Ruth; Picin, Andrea; Wroe, Stephen; Kullmer, Ottmar
Year of Publication: 2015
Journal: Am J Phys Anthropol
Volume: 156 Suppl 59
Pagination: 43-71
Date Published: 2015 Feb
Publication Language: eng
ISSN: 1096-8644
Keywords: Animals, Dental Calculus, Europe, Food habits, Fossils, Isotopes, Meat, Neanderthals, Paleopathology, Technology, Tooth Wear

Neanderthals have been commonly depicted as top predators who met their nutritional needs by focusing entirely on meat. This information mostly derives from faunal assemblage analyses and stable isotope studies: methods that tend to underestimate plant consumption and overestimate the intake of animal proteins. Several studies in fact demonstrate that there is a physiological limit to the amount of animal proteins that can be consumed: exceeding these values causes protein toxicity that can be particularly dangerous to pregnant women and newborns. Consequently, to avoid food poisoning from meat-based diets, Neanderthals must have incorporated alternative food sources in their daily diets, including plant materials as well.

DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.22659
Alternate Journal: Am. J. Phys. Anthropol.