A study of the Portuguese site of the Gruta de Figueira Brava finds the remains of a feast of oxen that took place tens of thousands of years ago
Few things create as much group cohesion as meeting around a table and share a plate of food in company. This premise is as true now as it was tens of thousands of years ago. Proof of this, the surprising discovery made in the portuguese deposit of the Figueira Brava Grotto where, according to a group of Spanish archaeologists, the remains of a great seafood platter that some Neanderthals organized nothing more and nothing less than 90,000 years ago.
The analysis of the archaeological remains reveals several curiosities of the life of these ancient inhabitants of the Iberian Peninsula. First of all, in case anyone is curious, it turns out that the Neanderthals put their boots on with sea oxen (those crabs with tender meat look like spider crabs). These animals were collected in large quantities, cooked on the fire and served at the community meeting point in the cave.
According to the remains found in the Portuguese site, seafood platters were a common practice for the Neanderthal populations of the area. This is demonstrated by the accumulation of remains of different species of shellfish that has been found in the Grotto of Figueira Brava. Surprising, above all, the lots of shells and claws of oxen (Cancer pagurus) found in the cave: a possible indicator that these animals were considered true delicacies for the Iberian Neanderthals.
How to cook seafood like a Neanderthal
If this story hasn’t left you speechless yet, get ready for this second part of the story. The study of these prehistoric shellfish remains has revealed that Neanderthals they caught especially large specimens. About 16 centimeters. With up to 200 grams of meat per specimen. At least 8% of the recovered shells have signs of having been directly exposed to fire (and, therefore, having been cooked) at between 300 and 500 degrees Celsius. In some cases, they have even recovered ‘seared’ shellfish remains.
Other studies have also revealed that, contrary to popular belief, Neanderthals did not only feed on large hunts. Also they caught mussels, clams and a wide variety of fish and they transported them for several kilometers to consume them in the same meeting point. In the case of the Portuguese deposit, in fact, it is estimated that the ancient Neanderthals walked more than two kilometers from the coast to the cave to collect and consume the shellfish.
According to the scientists who have led this analysis, headed by the Catalan Institute of Human Paleoecology and Social Evolution (IPHES-CERCA), one of the great study conclusions It is definitive proof that the intensive exploitation of marine resources is not only the heritage of our species. The ancient populations of Neanderthals already cultivated the good habit of organize large group seafood platters.