Surprise Discovery Reveals Neanderthals Loved Seafood And Were Excellent Fisherpeople

Neanderthals have been evidently substantially additional partial to seafood than formerly assumed: new study shows that Neanderthal communities residing in Portugal during the last ice age have been just as keen on fishing as our fashionable human ancestors.


Molluscs, crustaceans, fish, birds, and maritime mammals like dolphins and seals built up as substantially as half the diet plan of these Iberian ancients, the new study shows. That makes them resourceful fisher-hunter-gatherers, with behaviours closer to fashionable-day Homo sapiens than everyone realised. 

The excavation at the cave of Figueira Brava in close proximity to Setubal in Portugal revealed middens (domestic squander dumps) dated to all over 106,000 and 86,000 yrs back, packed with bones and shells from maritime animals. These would have been eaten alongside additional classic fare like deer and goats.

The Figueira Brava cave. (Pedro Souto/João Zilhão)

The finding is a major a person – the fatty acids offered by this form of seafood diet plan, this kind of as Omega-three, can enhance mind development. These sorts of consuming routines perhaps contributed to the “emergence of cognitive and behavioural modernity” in historical people, the researchers say.

“Figueira Brava presents the initially record of major maritime useful resource usage among Europe’s Neanderthals,” create the researchers in their posted paper.

“Constant with speedily accumulating proof that Neanderthals possessed a thoroughly symbolic material lifestyle, the subsistence proof noted below even more issues the behavioural hole once assumed to independent them from fashionable humans.”


The sheer amount of seafood remains uncovered, and the distance of the settlement from the coastline (about two kilometres or a tiny in excess of a mile), indicates that Neanderthals employed baskets and baggage to go fishing with, the researchers say.

This means to plunder food stuff from seas and rivers has long been regarded as an completely human trait, not some thing we shared with Neanderthals – and that makes the conclusions at this coastal site major.

Preceding proof for a seafood diet plan amongst Neanderthals has been patchy: while it has been observed in other pieces of the globe, it hasn’t been crystal clear just how popular these evolving consuming routines in fact have been.

seafood neander 3Recovered fragments of Cancer pagurus (brown crab). (Mariana Nabais/João Zilhão)

Industry experts know substantially additional about the diet plans of early fashionable humans in southern Africa all over the exact time, and the new study indicates that the make-up of this diet plan is not all that unique from the a person adopted by Neanderthals who lived by the coastline of Portugal.

Looking at that snacking on seafood and exploiting maritime sources could perfectly have played a huge portion in triggering the growth of the early human beings and pushing forward the growing sophistication of our societies, pinning down exactly when and the place it happened is an intriguing problem for anthropologists.

As comprehensive as this discovery is, it is really only a person portion of the globe – we really don’t have a pattern yet. The researchers assume that traces of other related communities may perhaps have been washed away from growing sea degrees during the finish of the last ice age, so there could possibly not be any additional to obtain.

Even so, it sheds significantly additional light-weight on the lifestyles and behaviours of the Neanderthals – and indicates that in their taste for seafood at the very least, they perhaps weren’t all that unique from our early ancestors.

The study has been posted in Science.