Neanderthals were omnivores, according to poop

June 29, 2014

Due in part to the ever-increasing popularity of the Paleo Diet, the scientific community seems especially interested lately in uncovering the true “caveman diet.” According to recently discovered fecal samples from neanderthals dated to 50,000 years ago, the caveman diet was mostly meat, but included plenty of berries, nuts, and veggies.

The results identified four fats associated with meat. But two cholesterol-related compounds that are an unambiguous fingerprint of plants also turned up.

“They were eating a lot of meat,” Sistiaga says. “But we believe they were omnivorous.”

While evolutionary biology does and should play a key role in deciphering the ideal human diet, it’s never simple enough to say, “Cavemen ate this and didn’t eat this, so that’s what we should do.” However, I believe that this finding will ultimately play an important role in truly understanding our human evolutionary history and how we got to where we are now.

Many are quick to point out the fact that most “cavemen” only lived to be 40 or 50 years old at most—why should we do what they did? Certainly the people behind these arguments aren’t so ignorant as to believe that diet and diet alone are responsible for all aspects of longevity. You and I both can surely think of many diseases and ailments that we too have encountered that surely would have killed us without modern-day medical intervention. I think neanderthals did fairly well for themselves (look at their rates of heart disease, cancer, tooth disease, obesity, etc. compared to ours today) considering their living conditions and technological advancement.