By analyzing some human bone fossils found in the Serinyà caves in Catalonia, a team of researchers found that in the diet of southern European hunter-gatherers, who inhabited this area approximately 27,000 years ago, there were large percentages of protein. sourced from land plants and animals including deer, rabbits, and horses. The researchers published their study in the Journal of Human Evolution.
Researchers at the University of Girona used radiocarbon dating to understand that these were bones that belonged to humans who lived between 25,000 and 27,000 years ago, a period during which, following the last glacial maximum (a cold period between 27,000 and 23,000 years ago), human populations continued to migrate south and settle in the Iberian Peninsula, Italy and Greece.
The researchers at the SHEP in Tübingen then performed further isotope analyses to understand what they ate by separating, with an innovative method, the single amino acids from collagen and analyzing their composition at the isotope level.
In this way they were able to understand if the diet of these people was based more on vegetable proteins, on meat proteins of terrestrial animals, or on fish proteins, also managing to understand which animals they were.
The team, led by Yuichi Naito, then discovered that these men carried out diets based mostly on terrestrial resources, such as land plants and animals, especially rabbits. They hardly ever ate fish, which is surprising because it was thought that people ate a lot of animals in lakes, streams, and the sea during this period.
“It seems that at the time there was little fishing in some populations, even near coastal regions. Apparently, even in this cold climate, the Earth’s environment was productive enough to support people, ”explains Dorothée Drucker, one of the researchers working on the study.