Scientists discovered 50,000-year-old human poop while excavating the ancient Neanderthal site El Salt, located in Spain near the port of Alicante on the Mediterranean.So Salon is willing to insist that Neandertal Man ate better than we did after a study showed that they ate plants? Even though they might have eaten them as gut contents? What was it Mark Twain said about science?
“The poop samples come from rock layers dated to roughly 50,000 years ago,” reported USA Today. This sample is much older than any previously found human excrement, including possible 14,000-year-old poop from Oregon and 6,000- to 7,000-year-old poop from Turkey.
Besides being the oldest known coprolite (fossilized dung), this Neanderthal poop holds a different scientific significance: possible proof that Neanderthals ate plants. A study on the findings was published Monday in the journal PLOS One.
Previously data and zooarcheological studies concluded that Neanderthals were mainly carnivorous. This new evidence suggests otherwise. According to the Los Angeles Times:
“Using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, researchers studied the powdered samples for traces of stanols and sterols, lipids that are formed in the intestines when gut bacteria act on plant and animal matter.
“The authors said that samples taken from five different areas suggested that Neanderthals predominantly consumed meat, but also had significant plant intake.”
“Neanderthals are primates after all,” lead author Aniara Sistiaga told the Los Angeles Times. “Our findings are solid evidence of a dietary component — plants — that so far has been missing in the fossil record.”
There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact. ~Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi, 1883