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NewsBites September 2014 Issue

Unearthing the Real Paleo Diet

Thanks to a study of 50,000-year-old Neanderthal feces, scientists now have a better understanding of what made up the real “Paleo diet.” The study examined fecal matter found in soil collected at a previously unearthed Neanderthal gathering place in Spain. A biomarker that’s produced when cholesterol is digested was used to determine that prehistoric people produced the sample, because humans break down more cholesterol than other animals. Other biomarkers enabled researchers to determine that although the Neanderthals ate mostly meat, they also consumed plants. Traces of plant matter have also been found in microfossils of Neanderthals’ teeth. Until recently, scientists had believed Neanderthals were carnivores, but this finding adds to the growing evidence that they were omnivores.

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