May 31, 2023

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It shows that Neanderthals were carnivores

New techniques Zinc isotope analysis of a tooth have revealed that Neanderthals included meat in their diet.

Scientists are debating Insect stage Our endangered sister species. Sometimes Studies on dental tartar in individuals from the Iberian Peninsula It seems to show that there was A major consumer of plants, Other investigations in deposits outside of Iberia seem to bear that out They ate nothing but meat.

A new study Led by A Researcher at the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS). In France, he showed it Neanderthals from the Cabasa site (Spain) appear to have been carnivores. The finding is published in PNAS.

A Neanderthal first molar was analyzed for this studyMercy Lourdes Montes

Until now, to determine a person’s position in the food chain, scientists had to extract proteins and analyze nitrogen isotopes in bone collagen. However, this method can only be used in mostly temperate environments, and can only be used on samples older than 50,000 years. If these conditions are not met, the analysis of nitrogen isotopes is very difficult or impossible. This is the case of the molar from the Cabasa deposit analyzed in this study.

Given these limitations, CNRS researcher Klevia Jaouen and her colleagues, including scientists from the University of Zaragoza and the Max Planck Institute (Germany), decided to study the ratio of zinc isotopes in tooth enamel. degradation.

This is the first time this method has been used to identify a Neanderthal diet. The zinc isotope ratios in the bones are low, making them carnivorous.

The analysis was carried out with animal bones from the same time period and geographic region, including carnivores such as lynx and wolves, and herbivores such as rabbits and chamois. The results show that the Neanderthal to whom this tooth from the Cabasa site probably belonged was a carnivore that did not consume the blood of its prey.

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Broken bones found at the site, along with isotopic data, indicate that this individual ate the bone marrow of its prey without consuming the bones, while other chemical traces indicate that it was weaned before the age of two. The analyzes also show that this Neanderthal may have died in the same place where he lived as a child.

Compared to previous techniques, it is new Zinc isotope analysis method Facility at Difference Between Omnivores and Carnivores. To confirm their results, the scientists hope to repeat the experiment with individuals from other sites, particularly from the eponymous site in southeastern France, where further research is underway.

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