Neanderthals had a pretty interesting list of food that they ate which included eyeballs and brains. It was previously believed that Neanderthals weren’t very smart, but recent evidence has proved that they were in fact quite intelligent as they created advanced tools, used medicine, and even made art and music.
And now new evidence has revealed that they were pretty sophisticated eaters as well. According to paleolithic archaeologist Wragg Sykes (and author of the book Kindred: Neanderthal Life, Love, Death and Art), Neanderthals ate a variety of foods which included bison, beavers, horses, rhinoceros, reindeer, gazelles, water buffalo, giant camels, and boar, in addition to dining on vegetables. It’s very possible that they even ate elephants and woolly mammoths. But not all of their meals were huge as they munched on several types of insects like flies, ticks, bees, grubs, and lice. Additionally, they feasted on eyeballs, brains, and tongues. While they did eat a lot of raw meat, they also cooked their meals and perhaps boiled them in the stomach of animals.
Scientists were able to gather this important information by using DNA testing to analyze dental tartar found on the teeth of Neanderthals. Small fragments of what they ate have been found in their excrement as well. They also studied animal bones that were located at sites that were once inhabited by Neanderthals and they found cuts on the bones that were created by stone tools. They even noticed cut marks where the eyeballs, brain, and tongue would have been located which revealed that they ate those too.
This new information certainly contradicts previous theories that they weren’t very good hunters and that they mostly ate the remains of animals that were previously killed by other predators. In an interview with Daily Mail, Sykes stated that “it looks like Neanderthals were perfectly able to hunt things like rabbits, birds or beavers, forage in coastal shallows and rock pools, and also ate more plants than we once believed.”
It’s not surprising that they ate well as they apparently needed to consume 3,500 to 5,000 calories each day and as much as 7,000 calories in tougher environments. To put this into better perspective, that’s over twice the daily recommended amount of calories for today’s adults.
They may not have had the luxury of today’s four-course meals, but it’s apparent that Neanderthals were definitely great eaters and knew how to cook their food.