Neanderthals liked seafood. Who knew? NY Times


"Neanderthals are often portrayed chowing down on mammoth meals and woolly rhino ribs. But an analysis of their leftovers from a coastal cave in Portugal suggests fish and mollusks claimed a special place on their Paleolithic palates.

“We all have that image of the primitive Neanderthal that eats lots of meat,” said Filipa Rodrigues, an archaeologist at the University of Lisbon and author of a paper published Thursday in Science. “Now, we have this new perspective that they explored the marine resources like Homo sapiens did.”

Archaeologists have previously found evidence that Neanderthals ate, collected and wore jewelry fashioned from shellfish. But evidence they consumed large amounts of fish has been lacking. Some scientists have argued Neanderthals did not have the skill or wit to catch fish as their Homo sapiens contemporaries did in Africa, and may have lost out on consuming aquatic animals rich in fatty acids that could have aided with brain development.

But deep in Cueva de Figueira Brava, which housed Neanderthals about 100,000 years ago, Dr. Rodrigues and her colleagues have uncovered more than 560 fish bones, as well as remains from clams, mussels, crabs, waterfowl, seabirds, seals and dolphins. The findings suggest Neanderthals cast a wide net to add sea creatures to their dinner menus, and the researchers say it shows the behavior of the archaic species was comparable to modern humans that lived at the time."  NY Times


In a time of plague – an interesting tidbit.

The DNA people say that I and SWMBO have traces of Neanderthal blood.  That gives me a warm and cuddly feeling.  I wonder if they liked frog legs.  I could use a few of those right now.

On a sad note my favorite restaurant has shuttered its windows and closed down, hopefully just for the duration.  R.T.s Restaurant in Alexandria, Virginia.  They do Chesapeake Bay Seafood and Louisiana cooking.   The place is rated as one of the fifty best restos in the South.  That means from the Potomac to New Orleans.  The She Crab Soup is to die for.

IMO both Andrew Cuomo and Trumpy are doing creditable jobs although the big threat is to the economy.  My SWAG is that some combination of existing drugs is going to put down CODIV-19.  pl

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35 Responses to Neanderthals liked seafood. Who knew? NY Times

  1. optimax says:

    I wonder if covid-19 patients are being treated with Hydroxychloroquine/Azithromycin in US hospitals? Small studies have shown it to be an effective treatment, and if prescribed early might reduce the need to ventilate.

  2. optimax says:

    The average brain size of Neanderthals is larger than homo sapiens at the time and even larger than modern humans. Yet, Neanderthals are considered less intelligent. Doesn’t make sense. Maybe they just weren’t homicidal enough to survive homo sapien aggression. Early hippies, you might say.

  3. This doesn’t surprise me at all. If you live near the sea, you’re bound to eat from the sea. That’s what hunter-gatherers do. Besides, you won’t get trampled by clams and urchins. That’s a real plus for a seafood menu over roast mastodon.
    Neanderthal genes. That’s cool. My father took one of those tests from National Geographic a while back. He was damned proud his Neanderthal genes were at the top of the range. He figured it may be some Tatar blood from long ago.
    My youngest son’s favorite place in Richmond, ZZQ, is still doing curbside pickup. They’re still selling out. ZZQ is among the top Texas BBQ joints in the country by several lists. Their brisket is magnificent. The first time i had one of their hot gut sausages, I saw Jesus… and we sang a duet of “Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner.” I plan on making a curfew breaking run down there in a week or so to give my son some human contact (he lives in a big house with two rabbits) and grab some ZZQ.

  4. turcopolier says:

    I am wondering the same thing.

  5. Fred says:

    “Hydroxychloroquine/Azithromycin” Not in Michigan, the Governor issued an executive order threatening licensing of doctors who prescribe it.

  6. English Outsider says:

    Hope you and TTG are “self-isolating” Neanderthals at the moment, Colonel. That the Plymouth is staying in the garage and that you are heeding your father’s dictum ” “if I had thought that I would live this long, I would have taken better care of myself…”

  7. Barbara Ann says:

    If things had turned out differently I do wonder if Neanderthal scientists would right now be wondering how those effete & small-brained Homo sapiens managed survive without a staple diet of nutritious mammoth steaks.
    Hopefully smarter scientists are working on treatments for the plague. As importantly, I also hope smarter economists are trying to figure out how the plague economy can function without the Fed buying all the things and without the money printing presses running at full tilt indefinitely. I have never been a big fan of gold as an investment, but with central bankers taking of open-ended QE, that is changing rapidly.

  8. FkDahl says:

    All non sub-Saharan-Africans have Neanderthal DNA, and East Asian+Aborigines+Polynesians+Amerindians have Denisovan DNA, with the highest % in New Guinea, Australia and oddly enough some Amazonian tribes. How did it get to the Amazon when the levels in North America are much lower?
    Now I have always wondered if a Basque or Georgian front row of a rugby team have even higher levels of Neanderthal DNA – I hope to find out soon! (the other Georgia)

  9. This is what a diet rich in seafood did for the Neanderthals:

  10. Mark K Logan says:

    I wouldn’t broach this topic in a Basque bar, but there has been some speculation the origins of the unique Basque language…and the Basque…could be Neanderthal.
    Any credence to his claim about that language being that unique?

  11. Personanongrata says:

    IMO both Andrew Cuomo and Trumpy are doing creditable jobs although the big threat is to the economy. My SWAG is that some combination of existig drugs is going to put down CODIV-19.
    King Andy of NY is a tyrant who responds to events with emotion rather than logic and reason.
    “I can say to the people of the state of New York, I did everything we could do. I did everything we could do,” and this is about saving lives and if everything we do saves just one life I’ll be happy. ~ King Andy
    (Notice all of I‘s in King Andy’s quote above. If it weren’t for King Andy where would NYS be?)
    What are the limits to King Andy’s tyranny?
    He can decree anything via his kingly diktat by speciously justifying his actions under the tissue paper thin guise of if it saves just one life I’ll be happy.
    What about a diktat to ban drinking soda pop? Drinking soda may lead to greater incidences of obesity and diabetes (83,534 Americans died from diabetes in 2017).
    What about a diktat to ban on eating red meat? Eating red meat may lead to greater incidences of heart disease (647,457 Americans died of heart disease in 2017).
    What about a diktat to order a statewide lock down to protect just one life from influenza? Influenza was the attributable cause of death for 55,672 Americans in 2017.
    The point is King Andy can decree diktats under the specious guise of if it saves just one life for everything and anything his coal black tyrants heart desires.
    Why have a constitution when we can have the kind benevolent hand of King Andy?
    Dear King Andy how do the people you have locked down pay their rent/mortgages?
    Dear King Andy how do the small businesses you have locked down pay their suppliers, insurance (workers compensation, liability, health/dental, unemployment, etc) utilities?
    Dear King Andy you are a press hound in search of a camera/microphone to preen yourself and pontificate before.
    Down with King Andy and his rotten to the core ilk.

  12. Adrestia says:

    Half of the Neanderthal genome is still in circulation in Homo Sapiens Sapiens. With the exception of African africans (not NA africans) most people have some other humanoid DNA (1% to up to 10%)
    Homo Sapiens Sapiens is basically a hybrid with up to 4 (or more) different hominids in it:
    1. Homo Sapiens Sapiens
    2. Homo Sap Neanderthalis (mainly Europe/West Asia/ME)
    3. Denisovan (mainly East Asia/Oceania. Highest % Papua’s
    which has an unknown (possibly Homo Eructus) hybrid
    4. In Nigeria there are traces of unknown humans (non HomSapSap)
    There are a number of traits that have evolutionary remained:
    * Tibetans/Nepali function better in low-oxygen environments thanks to Denisovan genes
    * Diabetes is a Neanderthal disease
    * Neanderthals were pretty powerfull built
    * the first composite material (glue created from destilling birch) was made by Neanderthals
    * and a lot we don’t know.
    I’ve been interested in this for some years now. There are 5 unique genes that HomoSapSap have:
    * 2 are related to pigmentation
    * 3 others. One of these is the ADSL gene that a.o relates to dominance-related behaviour. IMO people without this gene are less hierarchical than humans that have thes. Normal human dominance-related behaviour doesn’t affect them.
    IMO there is also a difference in the sympatetic and para-sympatetic autonomous nervous system. Why do people behave so differently with regard to danger? A lot of people stress out in their amygdala and can’t use their hypothalamus anymore, while others don’t have that.
    By training, training and more training blood-related occupations (military, police etc) learn how to avoid getting stuck in fear (amygdala) and use their hypothalamus instead.
    IMO these are caused by evolutionary differences. Neanderthal were thrusting-spear hunters that would have to wait until the last moment. Step aside and thrust a spear. Just like bull fighters do. Step too soon and you’re dead. Step to late and you’re dead too. Fear doesn’t help learning this (although natural selection probably helps). Being heavy boned and physically strong helps recovering.
    If I would make a SWAG the percentage of Neanderthal DNA will be higher in dangerous occupations such as fighting military, pilots, firemen etc.

  13. Adrestia says:

    Markup is a bit messy after posting.
    In the Denisovans is an unknown humanoid (Erectus). Not in the Papua.

  14. tpcelt says:

    I went to R.T.’s when I lived in VA…it’s a really good restaurant. I miss it now that I’m across the river in MD.

  15. Serge says:

    I remember reading that all races have traces of neanderthal blood, of varying degrees by sub population, except for blacks. I also remember reading somewhere that these fish eating neanderthals in iberia were among the last if not the last population of neanderthals

  16. akaPatience says:

    I didn’t realize Neanderthals WEREN’T known to be fish and seafood eaters. Until the GEICO commercials began airing, my mental image of a Neanderthal was always of a shaggy-clothed man dragging a woman by the hair. Surprisingly, several women I know just don’t care for fish. Maybe that’s one reason why some Neanderthal men had to drag their women around…
    We live in a downtown neighborhood, and in an effort to support one of the nearby restaurants that we routinely patronize, we got carryout tonight (only option of course) — an old fashioned Friday fish fry meal like the ones served in bygone days by countless Roman Catholic churches around here, featuring cod, French fries and creamy coleslaw. Macaroni and cheese with stewed tomatoes are other classic side dishes that were typically served at local fish fries. The cod was battered and deep fried to a wonderful crunchy crisp on the outside. It was all SINFULLY tasty but much more fattening and much less healthful than the meals I normally prepare. I’ll atone tomorrow by cooking up a pot of chicken soup that includes tons of veggies.
    I wouldn’t need to be dragged — I’d LOVE to try that She Crab Soup!

  17. Unhinged Citizen says:

    All European populations have Neanderthal genes, as this was a species of pre-hominid that emerged out of Africa up to ONE MILLION years before modern “homo” flavour of humans did, and spent their time in isolation, adapting to the harsher northern latitudes and in Asia, genetically evolving to better deal with high altitudes.
    Modern humans flooded out of Africa only recently, approx. 100,000 or so years ago, and bred with the older hominids as they pushed north into Europe and east into Asia, picking up genetic materials from these older pre-humans.

  18. Leith says:

    Cheap oysters bought by the bushels at the docks and roasted outdoors for the inner Neanderthal and your neighbors. Condiments of choice on hand: garlic butter and/or lemon wedges or tabasco (McIlhenny’s for me). Wash it down with cold beer. No pearls perhaps, but if you find one of those tasty little pea sized oyster crabs inside it’s a bonus.

  19. Bill H says:

    Less homicidal and more intelligent? Interesting combination.

  20. Seamus Padraig says:

    “We all have that image of the primitive Neanderthal that eats lots of meat,” said Filipa Rodrigues, an archaeologist at the University of Lisbon and author of a paper published Thursday in Science. “Now, we have this new perspective that they explored the marine resources like Homo sapiens did.”

    I’ve always found it puzzling that some people don’t regard fish as meat. Well, what is fish then? A vegetable?

  21. Adrestia says:

    Kill the italics.

  22. turcopolier says:

    What italics?

  23. turcopolier says:

    On the basis of my observation of men in prolonged combat I would say that you are right about there being a genetic endowment for that kind of thing. Some men claim later to have been afraid because they know that to admit otherwise is to be labeled as being one of the “crazy brave.” There are a lot of them in SF.

  24. Mark Logan says:

    I wouldn’t jump to that conclusion. It seems unlikely to me anyone would deliberately chose the most dangerous hunting style possible out of preference, not when you have a family to feed. It may be an easy conclusion for any modern, urban man to make, who has never experienced real hunger. Real hunger is something quite different than that feeling in one’s belly that tells us we are ready for dinner.
    Hunger will make ya accept risks. Hunger will make ya brave!

  25. Stuart R Wood says:

    Homosapiens are the only mammals that kill from a distance. Maybe that’s why we (homosapiens) replaced the Neanderthals?

  26. turcopolier says:

    Mark Logan
    You sound like someone with a Neanderthal DNA deficiency.

  27. Fred says:

    A clarification, it wasn’t the governor by EO but the state department of licensing and regulation. Buraucrats in action.

  28. Mark Logan says:

    I love seafood.

  29. turcopolier says:

    Mark Logan
    But, you cook it.

  30. Mark Logan says:

    On occasion ;).

  31. different clue says:

    My understanding was that the Michigan Governor was intending the do-not-presribe order on hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin to doctors who were apparently prescribing it to themselves and all their family for pre-emptive stockpiling in case of corona. This has created enough of a shortage that it threatens current availability of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin for the classical diseases and conditions which have been being treated with these drugs right along.
    I forget what hydroxychloroquine has been being used for right-along, but azithromycin is used for certain respiratory bacterial infections. I know it has stomped down my own bacterial bronchitis cases real effectively in the past. I would be surprised if this order is taken to mean ” no Z-Pack for bacterial bronchitis”, for example.

  32. different clue says:

    Reading about the presence of traces of Neanderthal DNA in many of us and Denisovan DNA in some, I begin to wonder whether it is the same traces in everybody who has them. Or whether some people have some traces and other people have other different traces.
    If different people have different traces, I wonder what would happen if some people decided to place themselves on a registry of “different traces” and treated eachother as partners in a huge dating service. Obviously their first priority would be to meet, mate and marry — or not — for love. But given that first prime directive was always followed, what if the people of this community also secondarily selected eachother to try and bring different traces of Neanderthal DNA together? And over the centuries the people of this group could begin amplifying their percentage of Neanderthal DNA? They could never breed back to a True Total Neanderthal, but perhaps they could breed forward to a kind of Neo-anderthal descendants.

  33. Different Clue,
    This post sparked a desire to delve deeper into the Neanderthals in me as well. I recommend this University of California series of short lectures and a Natural History Museum presentation on Neanderthal DNA. It will answer a lot of your questions.

  34. different clue says:

    Thank you for these links. I will spend some screentime watching them instead of some other things I was going to watch.
    I remember seeing once a photograph of a Neanderthal tip-most little finger bone next to a Modern big toe bone. The Neanderthal little-finger tip bone was much bigger than the modern big toe bone.
    My first feeling was jealousy and my first thought was ” Wow! I wish I had hands like that.”

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