The Elements of Evolution (61-17-3) Neanderthal Diet

 Neanderthal Diet

Neanderthal diets varied. Those that lived on the plains ate more meat than contemporaneous Cro-Magnon. They also consumed the stomach contents of the herbivores they slaughtered; a delicacy with the consistency and flavor similar to cream cheese.

Forest-dwelling Neanderthals were largely vegetarian. Neanderthal residing near the seashore harvested mollusks, fish, and hunted marine mammals, such as seals and dolphins. Neanderthals also enjoyed cooked vegetables, edible mushrooms, and fresh fruit when it was found.

At least some Neanderthals had sophisticated knowledge of herbal remedies and knew the nutritional value of certain plants. Neanderthal were aware of willow bark for pain relief (the source of aspirin) and knew of fungal antibiotics.

After a meal, a Neanderthal may have used a toothpick to clean its teeth. This technique for fighting periodontal diseases was culturally transmitted.

Physically, Neanderthal were bruisers. Their relatively heavier build meant that they needed a 1/3rd more calories than Cro-Magnon.