Study finds prehistoric humans ate bone marrow like canned soup 400,000 years ago

phys.org | 5/29/2019 | Staff
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Tel Aviv University researchers, in collaboration with scholars from Spain, have uncovered evidence of the storage and delayed consumption of animal bone marrow at Qesem Cave near Tel Aviv, the site of many major discoveries from the late Lower Paleolithic period some 400,000 years ago.

The research provides direct evidence that early Paleolithic people saved animal bones for up to nine weeks before feasting on them inside Qesem Cave.

Study - October - Issue - Science - Advances

The study was published in the October 9 issue of Science Advances.

"Bone marrow constitutes a significant source of nutrition and as such was long featured in the prehistoric diet," says Professor Ran Barkai. "Until now, evidence has pointed to immediate consumption of marrow following the procurement and removal of soft tissues. In our paper, we present evidence of storage and delayed consumption of bone marrow at Qesem Cave."

Evidence - Behavior - Socioeconomics - Humans - Qesem

"This is the earliest evidence of such behavior and offers insight into the socioeconomics of the humans who lived at Qesem," says Dr. Ruth Blasco. "It also marks a threshold for new modes of Paleolithic human adaptation."

"Prehistoric humans brought to the cave selected body parts of the hunted animal carcasses," says Professor Jordi Rosell. "The most common prey was fallow deer, and limbs and skulls were brought to the cave while the rest of the carcass was stripped of meat and fat at the hunting scene and left there. We found that the deer leg bones, specifically the metapodials, exhibited unique chopping marks on the shafts, which are not characteristic of the marks left from stripping fresh skin to fracture the bone and extract the marrow."

Researchers - Deer - Metapodials - Cave - Skin

The researchers contend that the deer metapodials were kept at the cave covered in skin to facilitate the preservation of marrow for consumption in time of need.

The researchers evaluated the preservation of bone marrow using an experimental series on deer, controlling...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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