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  #1   ^
Old Sun, Oct-30-11, 03:42
Demi's Avatar
Demi Demi is offline
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Default Fish and birds gave Neanderthals fine dining

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From The New Scientist
29 October, 2011

Fish and birds gave Neanderthals fine dining

THEY may have been partial to a chunky slab of meat, but very early on Neanderthals also had a taste for fine dining treats like fish and small birds. The findings show that our long-lost cousins were cognitively advanced from the get-go, long before modern humans appeared in Europe.

Discoveries of jewellery and make-up at 50,000-year-old sites show that around the time they went extinct Neanderthals had a taste for the finer things in life. Now that evidence has been pushed back to their first appearance in Europe.

Bruce Hardy of Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, and Marie-Hélène Moncel of France's Natural History Museum in Paris analysed residues on stone tools found at Payre in southern France, which was occupied by Neanderthals between 125,000 and 250,000 years ago. They found traces of fish scales, feathers, wood, hide and starch, indicating that their owners were fishing, hunting small birds, processing wood and hides, and eating vegetables (PLoS One, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0023768). That goes against the view, still held by some, that Neanderthals hunted large game but were not capable of subtler tasks like spearing fish and catching birds.
http://www.newscientist.com/article...ine-dining.html


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Neanderthal Use of Fish, Mammals, Birds, Starchy Plants and Wood 125-250,000 Years Ago

Abstract


Neanderthals are most often portrayed as big game hunters who derived the vast majority of their diet from large terrestrial herbivores while birds, fish and plants are seen as relatively unimportant or beyond the capabilities of Neanderthals. Although evidence for exploitation of other resources (small mammals, birds, fish, shellfish, and plants) has been found at certain Neanderthal sites, these are typically dismissed as unusual exceptions. The general view suggests that Neanderthal diet may broaden with time, but that this only occurs sometime after 50,000 years ago. We present evidence, in the form of lithic residue and use-wear analyses, for an example of a broad-based subsistence for Neanderthals at the site of Payre, Ardèche, France (beginning of MIS 5/end of MIS 6 to beginning of MIS 7/end of MIS 8; approximately 125–250,000 years ago). In addition to large terrestrial herbivores, Neanderthals at Payre also exploited starchy plants, birds, and fish. These results demonstrate a varied subsistence already in place with early Neanderthals and suggest that our ideas of Neanderthal subsistence are biased by our dependence on the zooarchaeological record and a deep-seated intellectual emphasis on big game hunting.
http://www.plosone.org/article/info...al.pone.0023768
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  #2   ^
Old Tue, Nov-01-11, 05:53
M Levac M Levac is offline
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That goes against the view, still held by some, that Neanderthals hunted large game but were not capable of subtler tasks like spearing fish and catching birds.

I think that's a misrepresentation of the "view". It's not that they couldn't spear fish or catch birds, but that they wouldn't waste their time with fish and birds when big game was plentiful even if they lived near the coast. Just recently I watched a show that explained it exactly like that.

But I see a potential problem with that view anyway. This waste of time implies that fish or birds would not supply lots of meat, i.e. small fish small birds. I'd understand small birds, but not small fish. Fish today is very small but I remember watching archive films of fishermen catching fish with nets. The fish were tuna, gigantic 1000 lbs tuna. And they were plentiful. Then again, maybe big game was so plentiful and so easy to hunt in comparison that even if there was very large fish, they still wouldn't consider that worthwhile. That would make sense. Natural selection works when there is pressure like food scarcity, not when food is plentiful.
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  #3   ^
Old Tue, Nov-01-11, 08:46
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RawNut RawNut is offline
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Are Neanderthals still considered our "cousins" since they found Neanderthal DNA in Europeans and Asians?
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  #4   ^
Old Tue, Nov-01-11, 13:52
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Angeline Angeline is offline
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Not everyone would hunt in a typical tribe. Typically it would be the young fit men of the tribe (maybe women too who knows). But what about all the children too young to participate in the hunt, the women pregnant, or breastfeeding, the old men and women. They wouldn't just sit around picking their noses. They would gather, and gathering involves small game, fish, eggs, insects, seafood (if near the coast). I think even if they lived near an area rich in game, they would still do this.
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  #5   ^
Old Tue, Nov-01-11, 15:02
M Levac M Levac is offline
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I don't know, Rawnut. I still consider them our cousins even if it may not be the official position.

Angeline, that show I watched explained that our bone composition tells us where our food came from: Land animals, fish, plants. And for Neanderthals, it was all land animals, big game. So even if they did gather, they didn't do it for food.

Remember the show I Caveman? Well, I think that's very representative of the choice. It's just too obvious that small game, fish and bird would only have been hunted when big game weren't available. And forget about plants for food, that's just fantasy.
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Old Tue, Nov-01-11, 17:51
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Angeline Angeline is offline
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Robb's wolf comments on the show were interesting

Quote:
There are a few things I want to comment on that will address some questions and comments that folks made regarding the show. The first is that this should NOT have been this hard. Even with our relatively poor skill-sets relative to legitimate hunter-gatherers, if we had been at a lower altitude the problems of forage and cold would have been effectively removed. One of the scientists associated with the show made the point that natives in that area would have been camped perhaps 5,000 feet lower at that time of year so they could take advantage of berries, spawning fish and a larger amount of game. Production picked a beautiful location that was effectively a desert. I knew this going in but accepted it as the inherent limitations of the experiment, but it painted the foraging life-way more harshly than is accurate. The idea of the experiment was to see if modern humans, given a modicum of training, could survive with stone-age tools. I think we proved that we can. Now imagine if we had skills that were given to us from an unbroken line of experts extending back to antiquity. What if we knew where to be at a given time of year, outstanding stalking and hunting skills…and everyone collected their fair share of fire wood! There were a couple of folks that I’d see doing crunches and push-ups when I rolled back into camp from laying traps, or collecting fire wood. I kind of lost it on these occasions and would start yelling “firewood: Better than crunches!!” I was not a complete dick about this but it was damn frustrating, and I suspect you’d NOT see that type of behavior last too long in an HG group.



Related to the hunting/skill-sets/foraging I’m pretty stoked that this experiment pretty clearly illustrates the idea of “optimum foraging strategy.” In this scenario you must be keenly aware of how much energy you expend relative to what you bring in. The clear winner, at least in this peri-glacial/alpine environment was hunting. The uninitiated tend to parrot something to the effect “hunting is hard, our ancestors just collected plants…they are easy to find…” Uh, yea…you will also starve simply collecting those easily had plants!! Stable isotope studies show early H. Sapiens to be nearly as carnivorous as obligate carnivores. Obviously this varies based on location, latitude and season, but not only was it clear that we COULD hunt big game effectively, but that in many situations this would be the ONLY way to make a go of a given area.


I pretty much came to that conclusion watching the show. I can't see our ancestor collecting much in the way of plants, except for medicinal purposes or for flavor. It simply could not have represented a large percentage of their calories. Well except for tubers, where they were available, and that varied a lot. Some tubers were very very labour intensive to prepare. Take the North American acorns for example.

But still, there would have hunted for other good protein sources whenever these were available. I can't image hunter gatherers turning up their nose at small game, foraged eggs, fish, ect. But maybe Neanderthals were different. It could help explain why they didn't survive as a race. If they were wholly dependant on big game, they would have been vulnerable to changes in the big game population. One of the reasons modern humans are so successful, was their ability to adapt to pretty much any environment they happened to live in.
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  #7   ^
Old Tue, Nov-01-11, 20:00
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RawNut RawNut is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M Levac
I don't know, Rawnut..


No one admits to knowing me. I'm glad you and Angeline are posting again!

I want to see I Caveman! I came to the same conclusions just from hearing it from you all. We most likely ate animals because they were the easiest to get!
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  #8   ^
Old Wed, Nov-02-11, 00:50
M Levac M Levac is offline
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Originally Posted by Angeline
I pretty much came to that conclusion watching the show. I can't see our ancestor collecting much in the way of plants, except for medicinal purposes or for flavor. It simply could not have represented a large percentage of their calories. Well except for tubers, where they were available, and that varied a lot. Some tubers were very very labour intensive to prepare. Take the North American acorns for example.

But still, there would have hunted for other good protein sources whenever these were available. I can't image hunter gatherers turning up their nose at small game, foraged eggs, fish, ect. But maybe Neanderthals were different. It could help explain why they didn't survive as a race. If they were wholly dependant on big game, they would have been vulnerable to changes in the big game population. One of the reasons modern humans are so successful, was their ability to adapt to pretty much any environment they happened to live in.

Tubers are only about 18% carbs (glucose), and glucose doesn't convert anywhere near 100% fat to be stored for later use, which is how our physiology deals with fuel. And I doubt tubers were plentiful anyway. Consider how much energy we use to gather tubers, and it's easy to see that tubers did not constitute any significant part of our diet. If we did gather tubers, it was probably for other uses besides food. We do use starch for other uses besides food today, why not back then?

As for being dependent on big game, I agree with you. If that was the case, and if big game became scarce, then neanderthals would die of starvation, or die off altogether. That's basically how natural selection works. Those who can't deal with the new conditions die off. Those who can, live and reproduce. I'm betting we are the descendants of those who lived and reproduced.
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  #9   ^
Old Wed, Nov-02-11, 07:10
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leemack leemack is offline
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Originally Posted by RawNut
Are Neanderthals still considered our "cousins" since they found Neanderthal DNA in Europeans and Asians?


I think us and neanderthals are both thought to have evolved from Homo heidelbergensis - so we're cousins in that respect. The DNA in europeans and asians is part of a different debate - did we wipe them out, or did we interbreed?

If we interbred, its likely that homo sapien dominant genetics would have given an advantage in the changing landscape, causing another round of natural selection - hence homo sapiens with a little neanderthal mixed in.

Its also thought that we interbred with other extinct homo species.

Lee
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