martes, 25 de julio de 2017

Neanderthals ate stinky turtles 60000 years ago in Israel

Shell fragments, from Western Caspian turtles. "Impact area" is where somebody hit them with a rock to break open the shell abut 60,000 years ago. Gonen Sharon

On the banks of the Jordan River, somebody, apparently not us, added freshwater turtles to their diets of giant cows, deer, weeds and reptiles.

On a lush lakeshore in northern Israel 60,000 years ago, prehistoric hunter-gatherers were augmenting their diet of aurochs, deer and weeds with smelly freshwater turtles, archaeologists have discovered.

Prehistoric hominins had been known to feast on tortoises, a terrestrial reptile, well before Man was a gleam in the Creator's eye. In Israel, tortoise bones associated with prehistoric beings go back 1.5 million years, though archaeologists argue over whether the beings at Ubeidiya actually ate the tortoises. They probably did at Gesher Benot Ya’akov about 780,000 years ago. In east Africa, evidence of tortoise consumption by early-humans goes back as much as 2.5 million years. Not turtles, though.

As scientists have pointed out, hunting down an elephant with spears is exhausting and dangerous, while hunting down a tortoise involves seeing it, bending over and picking it up. It's low-risk and they taste fantastic. Why would the ancients even bother trying to catch the friskier, faster, slimier and malodorous turtle lurking in the swamp? [...]

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