To meat or not to meat? New perspectives on neanderthal ecology

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Neanderthals have been commonly depicted as top predators who met their nutritional needs by focusing entirely on meat. This information mostly derives from faunal assemblage analyses and stable isotope studies: methods that tend to underestimate plant consumption and overestimate the intake of animal proteins. Several studies in fact demonstrate that there is a physiological limit to the amount of animal proteins that can be consumed: exceeding these values causes protein toxicity that can be particularly dangerous to pregnant women and newborns. Consequently, to avoid food poisoning from meat-based diets, Neanderthals must have incorporated alternative food sources in their daily diets, including plant materials as well.




Fiorenza, L., Benazzi, S., Henry, A. G., Salazar-García, D. C., Blasco, R., Picin, A., … Kullmer, O. (2015, February 1). To meat or not to meat? New perspectives on neanderthal ecology. American Journal of Physical Anthropology. Wiley-Liss Inc.

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