Isotopes found in bones suggest Neanderthals were fresh meat eaters

Neandertals' main food source was definitely meat
Tooth of an adult Neandertal from Les Cottés in France. Her diet consisted mainly of the meat of large herbivore mammals. Credit: MPI f. Evolutionary Anthropology/ A. Le Cabec

An international team of researchers has found evidence that suggests at least some Neanderthals were mainly fresh meat eaters. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the group describes testing protein samples discovered in Neanderthal bones and what they found.

Ever since scientists discovered the extinct species of human we now know as Neanderthal, our view of them has been changing. Initially, it was believed they were much less intelligent than us, had few if any skills, and in general, were more ape-like than human. And that included their —big apes are vegetarian, so it seemed logical to conclude that Neanderthal were, as well. But research over the years has shown them to be far more sophisticated than researchers first realized—they even managed to mate with modern humans. One remaining mystery is why they vanished. In this new effort, the researchers have not found any evidence to solve that mystery, but they have found evidence that suggests Neanderthals were neither vegetarians nor scavengers content to eat meat killed by other animals.

The evidence the team reports came in the form of found in the collagen of preserved Neanderthal bones found at two dig sites in France, Grotte du Renne and and Les Cottés. The researchers found that ratios of nitrogen-15 and nitrogen-14 were similar to those found in modern major meat such as wolves. They claim that this adds to the growing list of findings suggesting that Neanderthals were very much fresh meat eaters—evidence for a carnivorous diet includes spears found near Neanderthal remains, along with butchered animal bones. There is also evidence suggesting Neanderthals had a thicker thorax than —a feature that would allow for larger kidneys and livers often found in animals with a diet heavy in protein.

The researchers suggest that when the evidence is considered as a whole, it appears very likely that fresh meat was a main constituent of the Neanderthal diet—meat derived from vegetarian animals. A likely candidate is fawns, which would have been relatively easy to spear; their bones have been found at Neanderthal dig sites.


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New evidence suggests ancient jewelry at Grotte du Renne cave made by Neanderthals

More information: Exceptionally high δ15N values in collagen single amino acids confirm Neandertals as high-trophic level carnivores, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2019). www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1814087116

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Feb 19, 2019
"And that included their diet—big apes are vegetarian, so it seemed logical to conclude that Neanderthal were, as well"

-And by this same logic, cromags would be too. Except we're not.

"meat derived from vegetarian animals... fawns easy to kill"

-??? Why the caveat? What happened to all the megafauna?

Reminds me of 2 novels
'The Flesh Eaters'
https://www.goodr...h_Eaters

-and an alternate take on the grendel beast
"Eaters of the Dead"
https://farmersso...he-dead/

-Cromags forced neanderthal into a nocturnal niche.

"One remaining mystery is why they vanished"

-I dont know WHY researchers suspect that, as a temperate/subarctic species, they had become seasonal breeders. Fire, shelter, and clothes aside, they were still constrained by food availability just like every other such species.

Tropical cromag outgrew and overran them.

Feb 19, 2019
"But research over the years has shown them to be far more sophisticated than researchers first realized—they even managed to mate with modern humans. One remaining mystery is why they vanished. In this new effort, the researchers have not found any evidence to solve that mystery"

'They even managed to mate with modern humans'.
The mystery is solved right there. They did not "vanish", they crossbred with modern humans so that Neandertal genes are also in modern humans.
My human host's DNA also carries Neandertal genes - about 1% and that's where it went.
The original 'pure' Neandertals died out but their children were a combination of their father and mother's gene pool.
Why do some scientists always have to create such a mystery when the answer is staring right at them when they look in a mirror.

Feb 19, 2019
"But research over the years has shown them to be far more sophisticated than researchers first realized—they even managed to mate with modern humans. One remaining mystery is why they vanished. In this new effort, the researchers have not found any evidence to solve that mystery"

'They even managed to mate with modern humans'.
The mystery is solved right there. They did not "vanish", they crossbred with modern humans so that Neandertal genes are also in modern humans.
My human host's DNA also carries Neandertal genes - about 1% and that's where it went.
The original 'pure' Neandertals died out but their children were a combination of their father and mother's gene pool.
Why do some scientists always have to create such a mystery when the answer is staring right at them when they look in a mirror.

Feb 20, 2019
What is this P.C. anthropological propaganda we see week in, week out about how these advanced apes were more than they thought? It's highly speculative but what isn't is that the were were killed or bred out of the gene pool by humans.

Feb 20, 2019
I think that perhaps the Neandertal were a very gentle and kind remnant of the homo sapiens specie. But whatever they were, many of their descendants, in so many ways, fit more the part of savages and plain nasty humans who accuse without good reason and tell lies about the innocent, such as the way Da Scheide tells lies online about people he has never met, believing he is justified in doing so.
If Neandertals were alive in these times, I believe that they would be hounded, tortured and killed - and, at the very least - be made fun of for their appearance. So much so, that federal laws would have to be passed for their protection.

Feb 20, 2019
IF the coastal areas they occupied were significant sources of nourishment, and the CroMagnons move into the areas and displaced the Neanders, then they would have been limited to meat protein which would have impacted the female ability to bear.

Feb 20, 2019
They use the combined N and C isotope ratios to identify Neanderthals as a carnivore on the tropic level. This is how they want to explain that some OutOfAfricans have even more exceptional d15N as due to fish eating.instead of meat eating. However, I don't see an OOA null reference that would make it a robust conclusion.

Else around this work I see the usual Neanderthals-were-different tropes, including claims of no clothes and no fire except as they had likely been selected against that to remain body hairless. Here they "had a thicker thorax than modern humans—a feature that would allow for larger kidneys and livers often found in animals with a diet heavy in protein." But skeletal traits varied widely, and the new reconstruction of them find a straighter back bone with same thorax volume [ https://www.smith...0970674/ ].

Feb 20, 2019
"meat derived from vegetarian animals... fawns easy to kill"

-??? Why the caveat? What happened to all the megafauna?


C isotope values excluded much mammoth meat. So fawns, in general terms.

they crossbred with modern humans


were killed or bred out of the gene pool by humans.


were a very gentle and kind remnant of the homo sapiens


It is not that simple. Originally there were about 10 times as many Africans as Neanderthals (and Denisovans). After various variation at the end the OOA and N were again 5-1 or so. So say that, giving a 20 % N alleles under a free breeding mix. However, Pääbo et al just very carefully showed that the first 10 generations dropped that to the seen 2 %, after which N alleles essentially remains under drift.

So is that a sign of rising species barrier or same species? Potato, potatoe at state of the art.

N was caring for elderly and infirm as OOA.

Feb 20, 2019
If there's something Jaouen et al.'s paper did not prove, it's that "Neanderthals' main food source was definitely meat":
(1) You can't be more carnivorous that top-predators like felids.
(2) At least some of them had plant foods in their diet, e.g. traces of cattails on their tools, and traces of waterlily roots in their dental plaque.
(3) Stringer et al.2008 showed "Neanderthal exploitation of marine mammals in Gibraltar" PNAS 105:14319-24.
(4) Their anatomy was not suited for hunting or fighting large herbivores: they were too slow, heavy & vulnerable, e.g. their broad pelvises + iliac flaring & very long femoral necks were an adaptation for femoral abduction, not for running.
(5) Why didn't the authors 't explore the most logical hypothesis (Verhaegen 2013 Hum.Evol.28:237-266)? AFAIK, all European neandertal fossils are found in river valleys, or else at seacoasts: probably they seasonally followed the river to the coast, IOW, ate freshwater(side) + marine foods.

Feb 27, 2019
Also google - Neanderthals Had Bigger Brains Than Modern Humans - and - the Brain uses more energy than any other organ.

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