Neanderthal cuisine was far more sophisticated than previously thought, according to a new analysis of fossilised teeth.
Until now, it was assumed that the ancient humans ate almost nothing but meat – contributing to their downfall, since early modern humans were able to exploit more food sources. But the fresh analysis of microscopic particles trapped in Neanderthal teeth revealed evidence of a richer diet, including a wide range of vegetables and pulses – wild grass, beans, roots, tubers, and date palms – as well as the ability to cook.
The evidence, from cave sites in Iraq and Belgium, suggests that Neanderthal man controlled fire. The researchers wrote in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: "Our results... suggest an overall sophistication in Neanderthal dietary regimes."