• Spain's news in English

World's oldest human faeces found in Spain

Alex Dunham · 26 Jun 2014, 12:36

Published: 26 Jun 2014 12:36 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

You may have previously thought Neanderthals were protein-loving hunters who turned their noses up at fruit and veg, but a recent discovery in Spain’s Valencia region may prove otherwise.

Geoarchaeologists working at the El Salt Neanderthal site near Alicante have found the oldest human excrement to date atop an ancient campfire.

“We were expecting to find lipids (organic compounds) from their cooking on the campfire, but instead we found samples belonging to human faeces,” Spanish researcher Ainara Sistiaga told The Local.

“I doubt they ‘went to the toilet’ there while the fire was ablaze, or that they used the faeces as fuel for that matter.

“It’s more likely that they used the campfire as a ‘loo’ once they had moved their settlement elsewhere,” Sistiaga added.

A scientist at La Laguna University in Spain’s Canary Islands, Sistiaga has worked with researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in determining what the 50,000 year-old faeces contain.

Story continues below…

“Two of the samples we took contained compounds that are produced when molecules found in plant-based foods are broken down.

“We don’t know yet how much of a varied diet Neanderthals had, but our study is the first direct evidence that they may have been omnivorous rather than carnivorous, as was previously thought,” Sistiaga concluded.

For more news from Spain, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Alex Dunham (alex.dunham@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Spain worries about tourism future
Photo: Josep Lago / AFP file picture

After basking in its best tourist summer season in 15 years, Spain now sees dark clouds on the horizon as popular destinations reach saturation point and holidaymakers are more thrifty, industry experts say.

Spain’s Socialists meet to decide on veto
The Socialists are meeting Saturday to decide on whether to lift a veto on the minority conservative government or not. Photo: Gerard Julien/ AFP

Spain's embattled Socialists gather Sunday for a crunch strategy meeting expected to see the party lift its veto on a minority conservative government and finally unblock the country's ten-month political deadlock.

Spain's 'Napflix' aims to bore viewers to sleep
Photo: Screengrab/ Napflix

A Spanish video platform called Napflix, designed to put people to sleep with dull content, was launched this week and its founders are on the lookout for more "monotony and repetition."

Recipe: How to make fabada - traditional Asturian bean stew
Photo: Flavio Lorenzo Sánchez/Flickr

The hearty Asturian dish is a perfect lunch on a cold day... and don't forget the crusty bread and cider!

Brit 'paedo' held on Costa del Sol after Most Wanted appeal

One of Britain's most wanted fugitives was arrested on the Costa Del Sol following a tip-off from an expat just hours after his face appeared on a public appeal.

Spain's parliament approves deficit reduction measures
Photo: Images Money/Flickr

Spanish lawmakers approved on Thursday measures to reduce the public deficit and keep it under the target agreed with the European Union.

'Cubism and War' show opens at Barcelona Picasso Museum
Pablo Picasso Harlequin and Woman with a Necklace. Photo: MP

Barcelona's Picasso Museum unveiled an exhibition on "Cubism and War" on Thursday depicting how one of the most influential artistic styles of the 20th century survived the First World War.

Why this bionic limb pioneer doesn't believe in disability
Hugh Herr has been award Spain's top science prize. Photo: FPA

The Local speaks to Hugh Herr on winning Spain's top science prize and how being an amputee doesn't make him disabled.

Dine in the buff at Spain's first nudist restaurant
A buffet of organic food will be served on "human tables". Photo: Innato / Facebook

Spain's first naked dining experience is to arrive on the island of Tenerife following the success of a similar venture in London.

Spain's top court overturns bullfighting ban in Catalonia
Photo: AFP

Spain's Constitutional Court on Thursday cancelled a bullfighting ban in Catalonia in what is likely to exacerbate tensions between Madrid and the separatist region, and between animal activists and fans of the tradition.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Madrid parish church faces fine over 'too noisy' bells
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Celebrate expat life at Madrid’s THRIVE convention
Fury after kids told to bring their own loo roll to school
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Disney announces plans for Don Quixote action movie
Activist tells 8-yr-old matador wannabe with cancer 'just die'
King to make last minute push to avoid third vote in Spain
Amazing photos of Catalonia's 'human tower' contest
What's on in Spain: October 2016
'No way, Jose! You'll never get your hands on our Rock'
Recipe: How to make a classic Spanish tortilla de patatas
Chorizo in paella? Go back to cooking school Jamie Oliver
Spain in eye of a perfect storm after 10 months without govt
Thousands share clips of life for 'Spain in a Day' film
Ten incredible Spain locations for Game of Thrones season 7
Analysis & Opinion
Why moving to Spain could be the best decision of your life
Seven reasons why autumn is the very best season in Spain
Spanish study finds four types of personality. Which are you?
New search underway for civil war grave of poet Lorca
Bison found decapitated on Valencia nature reserve
Forgotten Voices: What Brits in Spain think about Brexit
One dead and 14 injured in blast at Spanish resort
Game of Thrones want extras 'with muscles' to film in Spain
Thousands march in Madrid to push for bullfighting ban
jobs available