Neanderthals had a taste for a seafood delicacy that’s still popular today

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Neanderthals living 90,000 several years in the past in a seafront cave, in what is now Portugal, often caught crabs, roasted them on coals and ate the cooked flesh, in accordance to a new examine.

The acquiring is important for the reason that it builds upon proof that overturns the prolonged-standing idea that a taste for seafood — loaded in omega-3 fatty acids that are essential for mind advancement — was one particular of the one of a kind variables that created our very own species, Homo sapiens, smarter than other, now-extinct prehistoric humans, this kind of as Neanderthals.

“Our benefits increase an additional nail to the coffin of the obsolete idea that Neanderthals ended up primitive cave dwellers who could scarcely scrape a living off scavenged major-video game carcasses,” mentioned study creator Dr. Mariana Nabais, a postdoctoral researcher at the Catalan Institute of Human Paleoecology and Social Evolution in Tarragona, Spain, in a information launch.

Archaeologists excavating the web site at Gruta da Figueira Brava, around 20 miles (32 kilometers) south of Lisbon, experienced also discovered the remains of shellfish. There were being limpets, mussels and clams, but shell and pincer scraps from the brown crab had been especially numerous.

Scientifically acknowledged as Most cancers pagurus, the brown crab is a species crab nevertheless typically eaten nowadays in Portugal, Spain, Italy and France.

This latest examine identified the Neanderthals hunted primarily larger grownup crabs, suggesting they had been chosen for the dimensions, with a shell or carapace about 16 centimeters (6.3 inches) broad. Just about every crab would have presented close to 200 grams (7 ounces) of crabmeat.

Patterns of problems to the crab shells and pincers dominated out the involvement of other predators these types of as birds or rodents, the review reported. And crack marks viewed on specimens found at the archaeological website ended up quite comparable to those developed when taking in the crabs right now, the review reported, even though Neanderthals would have employed stone tools rather than contemporary-working day steel hammers and cutlery to crack open the shellfish.

Black burn off marks the researchers discovered on the shells recommended that the crabs ended up roasted on warm coals to temperatures of among 300 and 500 degrees Celsius (572 and 932 levels Fahrenheit) then cracked open up to obtain the cooked flesh.

“Whether these types of foodstuff had been perceived as tasteful, mirrored some type of festivity, extra social worth to whoever harvested them, or had other intake-linked meanings is over and above our grasp,” the review that printed Tuesday in the journal Frontiers in Environmental Archaeology claimed.

Whilst crabs are not straightforward to capture by hand, the review said it was very likely they were being caught in shallow lower-tide rock swimming pools close to the cave, maybe aided by spears to stun them. The review pointed out that Indigenous groups throughout North The usa have been documented harvesting crabs in this way.

Neanderthals have been capable to adapt to diverse environments, hunt a huge array of animals and make use of different types of food stuff, the research underscored.

These hominins hunted big video game. Neanderthals have been equipped to destroy and butcher huge elephants that could feed 100 folks for a month, according to a February 1 analyze that analyzed historic animal continues to be identified at a dig web site in Germany.

Neanderthals also cooked meals that combined vegetation and pulses like lentils, a November 2022 review uncovered.

Francis McGee

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