The evolutionary history of humans is marked with interesting facts about prehistoric humans finding innovative ways for survival and sustenance. Talking about their food intake, they largely depended on raw plantations and animals caught by hunting. If you thought that early humans weren't smart enough to strategise their diet like we do now, you may be wrong. A recently conducted study gives direct evidence that Paleolithic people living in a cave near Tel Aviv around 40,000 years ago, learnt the importance of storing food for rainy days. The study suggest that these men used to save animal bones for up to two to three months like we store canned soup for future consumption.
The research was carried out by Tel Aviv University researchers, with the help of scholars from Spain, and its findings were published in the journal ‘Science Advances'.
Dr. Ruth Blasco from TAU's Department of Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Civilizations and Centro Nacional de Investigación Sobre la Evolución Humana (CENIEH) explained, “Marrow consumption has been linked to immediate consumption following the procurement and removal of soft tissues. Here, we present the earliest evidence for storage and delayed consumption of bone marrow at Qesem Cave, Israel.”
The findings offer insight into the socioeconomics of the humans and the nature of human adaptation prevalent in those times. According to the researchers, the most common animal hunted for this purpose was fallow deer. The animals' metapodials covered in skin were kept inside the caves to preserve the nutritious marrow for later consumption.
“By using experimental series controlling exposure time and environmental parameters, combined with chemical analyses, we evaluated bone marrow preservation. The combination of archaeological and experimental results allowed us to isolate specific marks linked to dry skin removal and determine a low rate of marrow fat degradation of up to 9 weeks of exposure,” revealed Dr. Ruth Blasco.
This vindicates the fact that bone marrow was an important source of food for prehistoric men and these could be the reasons behind it –
- Animal fat is a proven source of great human nutrition.
- Its calorific value is more than other nutrients, even proteins or carbohydrates.
- Bone fat contains a higher quality of essential fatty acids.
- Bone grease can be stored for a long period of time.
Understanding of nutrient composition of food was gained by humans, way before than we thought. These findings help us understand the way of living of early men in a detailed manner.