Editions:  Austria · Denmark · France · Germany · Italy · Norway · Spain · Sweden · Switzerland
Advertisement

World's oldest human faeces found in Spain

Share this article

World's oldest human faeces found in Spain
Geoarchaeologists working at the El Salt Neanderthal site have found the oldest human excrement to date atop an ancient campfire. Photo: Sebastian Willnow/ddp/AFP
12:36 CEST+02:00
50,000 year-old human excrement discovered in eastern Spain is offering a new insight into the not so meaty diet of our prehistoric ancestors the Neanderthals. The Local spoke to one of the scientists who found and studied the faeces.

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.

“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.

Get notified about breaking news on The Local

Share this article

Advertisement

From our sponsors

Advertisement
Advertisement
Jobs
Click here to start your job search
Advertisement
Advertisement

Popular articles

Advertisement
Advertisement