A Recent Study On Human And Animal Remains Up To 15,000-Years-Old In Africa Suggests That Prehistoric Hunter-Gatherers Actually Ate More Plant-Based Foods As Opposed To Meat

Jose Ignacio Soto - - illustrative purposes only

Over a thousand years ago, prehistoric hunter-gatherers lived in northwest Africa. Previously, researchers believed that humans relied mostly on a diet high in animal proteins before agriculture arrived in the region, but new findings at an ancient burial site have shown that a group of hunter-gatherers actually ate more plant-based foods than meat.

The study was led by Zineb Moubtahij from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. Details of the discovery were published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.

A team of researchers analyzed human and animal remains dating back between 13,000 and 15,000 years ago at a cave burial site named Taforalt from the Late Stone Age.

The site is located in what is now Morocco and is associated with the Iberomaurusians, a group of hunter-gatherers that lived between 11,000 and 25,000 years ago.

Agriculture was introduced to the region from the Near East around 7,600 years ago. In the Near East, hunter-gatherers from the Natufian culture (11,000 to 14,000 years ago) began to cultivate and eventually domesticate wild plants.

The Iberomaurusians appeared to have been genetically related to the Natufians, but they were not thought to have utilized wild plants to the same extent.

However, the latest research has revealed that their diet consisted heavily of plant-based foods. The team of researchers conducted an isotopic analysis to identify the proportions of meat, fish, and plants that prehistoric people consumed.

“Humans consume food, ingesting its isotopic information, which is then recorded in our bones and teeth. Researchers analyze human bones and teeth found in archaeological records and can estimate their diet. A person who ate more plants would have different isotopic information than a person who ate more meat,” Moubtahij said.

It was discovered that the Iberomaurusians buried at Taforalt did eat animal proteins, but their main source of food was wild plants. At the site, the remains of acorns, pine nuts, and wild pulses provide further evidence in support of this finding.

Jose Ignacio Soto – – illustrative purposes only

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