New Evidence Shows Neanderthals Collected Seafood

As per a new research, ancient Neanderthals reportedly made extensive use of available coastal environments and even stored (and munched) fish, crabs, mussels and other types of seafood, which is a behavior that is usually attributed to their big-browed cousins.

Neanderthals Collected Seafood

Up until this new discovery, Neanderthal sites only showed little evidence that these ancient hominids only used marine resources on a small scale, such as scattered shells. However, archaeologists recently managed to unearth a cave located on the coast of Portugal, which then led to the discovery of huge structured seafood deposits dating to around 106,000 and 86,00 years ago, and contained remains from mussels and limpets, among other types of seafood.

Per the researchers, this shows that the Neanderthals collected seafood on a systematic level since the density of the shells were as high as 370 kg per cubic meter in some layers. Per the archaeologists, this presents a wonderful and exciting find since it reveals Neanderthals showed traits that were once known to be only exhibited by anatomically modern humans, and not ancient hominids such as them.

“I feel myself uncomfortable with the comparison between Neanderthals and Homo sapiens, because the bottom line is Neanderthals were Homo sapiens too. Not only was there extensive interbreeding, and such interbreeding was the norm and not the exception, but also in every single aspect of cognition and behaviour for which we have archaeological evidence, Neanderthals pass the sapiens test with outstanding marks,” Prof. João Zilhão, of the University of Barcelona, co-author of the report who believes the new discovery just shows how similar Neanderthals and modern humans are, said.

Furthermore, the findings also reveal that Neanderthals had “surfer’s ear,” which they probably used to dive and collect seashells for food. Previous research also showed that they even made rock art from these shells.

“Forget about this Hollywood-like image of the Neanderthal as this half-naked primitive that roamed the steppe tundra of northern Europe hunting for mammoths and other megafauna with poor and inefficient weapons. The real Neanderthal is the Neanderthal who is in southern Europe,” Zilhão added. 

neanderthal Parts of the human genome have been found to carry genetic variants derived from Neanderthals; it is estimated non-African humans inherited 1.5 to 4 percent of their DNA from Neanderthals. Photo Courtesy Flickr, Erich Ferdinand

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