Neanderthals ate DOLPHINS as new evidence reveals they 'pioneered' ocean hunting

NEANDERTHALS were pioneers in using marine resources, according to significant new evidence.

Over 80,000 years ago, the ancient human ancestors were reportedly often feeding themselves mussels, fish and other marine life.

An international research team found evidence of this during an excavation in the cave of Figueira Brava in Portugal.

The experts dated the site to between 86,000 to 106,000 years old.

This means the Neanderthals were living there around the time the species first settled in Europe.

Using the sea as a major resource has only really been attributed to Homo sapiens (modern humans) in Africa.

The Figueira Brava cave is situated 30km south of Lisbon.

Today, it is right next to the waterfront but back when the Neanderthals lived there it would have been 2km from the coast.

The research team found that the Neanderthals that lived there were often harvesting mussels, fish, crustaceans, dolphins and seals.

Food like this is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and other fatty acids that can improve and promote the development of brain tissue.

Neanderthals eating food like suggests their cognitive abilities could have been much higher than previously thought.

Dr Dirk Hoffmann from the University of Göttingen worked on the study.

He observed: "Among other influences, this could explain the early appearance of a culture of modern people that used symbolic artefacts, such as body painting with ochre, the use of ornaments or the decoration of containers made of ostrich eggs with geometric motifs.

"Such behaviour reflects human's capacity for abstract thought and communication through symbols, which also contributed to the emergence of more organised and complex societies of modern humans."

This study haws been published in the journal Science.

Who were the Neanderthals? Our mysterious extinct cousins explained

Here's what you need to know…

  • The Neanderthals were a mysterious human ancestor who died out around 40,000 years ago.
  • Thousands of their tools, weapons and other artefacts have been found, as well as several nearly complete skeletons.
  • Neanderthals were the original 'cave men', thought for decades to be brutish and dim-witted compared to humans.
  • However, a growing body of evidence suggests we've been selling Neanderthals short.
  • Their brains were bigger than ours and they indulged in cultural activities like cave painting and body art.
  • Our heavy-browed cousins even had funerary rituals, meaning they buried their dead with an afterlife in mind.
  • Having lived in Africa for many millennia, Neanderthals began to move across to Europe around 400,000 years ago.
  • Early humans followed suit far later, arriving just 60,000 years ago.
  • Neanderthals mysteriously died out shortly afterwards, possibly due to a disease pandemic or hunting by humans.
  • It's also thought our ancestors outcompeted their newfound rivals for food and shelter, eventually wiping them from the planet.

In other archaeology news, early humans ‘ate a vegan diet and swung between trees like monkeys’ 3.6million years ago.

A stolen ancient Roman missile has been returned by a thief who fears coronavirus.

And, a mysterious ring of mammoth bones built by our ancient ancestors has left scientists puzzled.

What do you make of this new Neanderthal discovery? Let us know in the comments…

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