The Neandertals

Fragment of a human femur
bearing traces of an impact which was
manmade to access the bone marrow
Goyet , Belgium


Early research on Neandertal nutrition gave them the profile of being great meat lovers. During the ice age, they mainly consumed large herbivore fauna. A chemical study of Neandertal bones showed that mammoths and reindeer were the main source of meat intake, whilst woolly rhinos, horses and bison were also found on the menu, but in less frequencies. 

However, in recent years, new research methods have shown that the consumption of plants and fungi was also important.   For example, the examination of dental calculus from the Spy fossils revealed the presence of starch grains from water lily rhizomes, a significant calorific intake , whilst the identification of certain bacteria revealed that mushrooms were also quite popular. 

Aside from this, traces of cut marks found on Neandertal bones attested to the practice of cannibalism, although it is still not clear whether this was strictly for food or for ritual practices.