Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to The Other McCain, Bacon Time, Whores and Ale, Pirate’s Cove and The Daley Gator for the Rule Five links!  As always, if I’ve missed your link back, let me know in the comments and I’ll add you to the acknowledgements.

Now then:  Paleoanthropology has long been an interest of mine.  It’s an interest I shared with the Old Man, and we would have long discussions on the latest finds and the implications thereof.  Now, from Shanidar Cave, we find that the Neandertals may have been accomplished chefs – at least, for the standards of their time.  Excerpt:

At the Shanidar Cave, the researchers analyzed food remains from approximately 70,000 years ago, when Neanderthals lived at the site. They also analyzed remains from around 40,000 years ago, when early modern humans lived there. At the Franchthi Cave, they analyzed food remnants that early modern humans who were hunter-gatherers consumed some 12,000 years ago.

At both archaeological sites, researchers identified similar plants and culinary practices, which may point to a shared food culture, says lead study author Ceren Kabukcu, an archaeobotanical scientist at the University of Liverpool, to CNN’s Katie Hunt.

The researchers’ analysis suggests that early modern humans and Neanderthals weren’t just consuming protein from animals; they had complex diets that consisted of a wide selection of plants and varied depending on location. They also used “a range of tricks to make their food more palatable” such as soaking and pounding, per a statement from the University of Liverpool.

“This study points to cognitive complexity and the development of culinary cultures in which flavors were significant from a very early date,” says Kabukcu in the statement. “Our work conclusively demonstrates the complexities in the early hunter-gatherer diet which are akin to modern food preparation practices. For example, wild nuts and grasses were often combined with pulses, like lentils, and wild mustard.”

So, complex food prep – and even seasonings.

The Neandertal were complex, sophisticated people.  As evidence, one might note that they maintained a lifestyle for 300,000 years in a howling Ice Age wilderness, and did so successfully, at least until they encountered our ancestors.  While the Neandertal gradually disappeared, they were at least in part absorbed into H. sapeins in northern and western Europe; if your ancestry arises from that area you carry a little Neandertal DNA in your genome.

Think how interesting it would be to meet one of these people – and yes, they were people.  Not us, but people.  You might not have a  lot of common ground, but you would certainly recognize a fellow human.  And now, it turns out, you might just enjoy sitting down for a meal with them.  That’s fascinating stuff.