Skip to main content
×
Home

Flavouring food: the contribution of chimpanzee behaviour to the understanding of Neanderthal calculus composition and plant use in Neanderthal diets

  • Sabrina Krief (a1) (a2), Camille Daujeard (a3), Marie-Hélène Moncel (a3), Noemie Lamon (a4) (a5) and Vernon Reynolds (a5) (a6)...
Abstract

In a recent study, Hardy et al. (2012) examined ten samples of dental calculus from five Neanderthal individuals from El Sidrón in northern Spain (occupation dates between 47300 and 50600 BP). In calculus from a young adult, they discovered the presence of compounds (dihydroazulene, chamazulene and methylherniarin) that occur in yarrow (Achillea millefolium) and camomile (Matriarca chamomilla). In preference to other hypotheses, the authors proposed that these two plants were used for self-medication. In this paper, we do not reject the self-medication hypothesis, but our observations of wild chimpanzees in Uganda, at Sonso in the Budongo Forest Reserve and at Kanyawara and Sebitoli in Kibale National Park (separated by about 150km), as well as ethnological and palaeontological evidence, lead us to propose three other explanations for the presence of these compounds. In addition, data on Neanderthal behaviour suggest that their subsistence and technological strategies were complex.

Copyright
References
Hide All
Binford L.R. 1978. Nunamiut ethnoarchaeology. New York: Academic Press.
Brink J.W. 1997. Fat content in leg bones of Bison bison, and applications to archaeology. Journal of Archaeological Science 24: 259–74. http://dx.doi.org/10.1006/jasc.1996.0109
Buck L.T. & Stringer C.B.. 2014. Having the stomach for it: a contribution to Neanderthal diets? Quaternary Science Reviews 96: 161–67. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2013.09.003
Bruneton J. 2009. Pharmacognosie, phytochimie, plantes médicinales. Paris: Lavoisier.
Carter C.A., Gray E.A., Schneider T.L., Lovett C.M. Jr, Scott L., Messer A.C. & Richardson D.P.. 1997. Toxicarioside B and toxicarioside C. New cardenolides isolated from Antiaris toxicaria latex-derived dart poison. Tetrahedron 53: 16959–68. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0040-4020(97)10174-0
Church R.R. & Lyman R.L.. 2003. Small fragments make small differences in efficiency when rendering grease from fractured artiodactyl bones by boiling. Journal of Archaeological Science 30: 1077–84. http://xdx.doi.org/10.1016/S0305-4403(03)00010-4
Daujeard C. 2008. Exploitation du milieu animal par les Néanderthaliens dans le sud-est de la France (British Archaeological Reports international series 1867). Oxford: John & Erica Hedges.
Daujeard C. & Moncel M.-H.. 2010. On Neanderthal subsistence strategies and land use: a regional focus on the Rhone Valley area in southeastern France. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 29: 368–91. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jaa.2010.05.002
Ecker M., Bocherens H., Julien M-A., Rivals F., Raynal J-P. & Moncel M.-H.. 2013. Middle Pleistocene ecology and Neanderthal subsistence: insights from stable isotope analyses in Payre (Ardèche, southeastern France). Journal of Human Evolution 65: 363–73. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2013.06.013
Etkin N.L. & Ross P.J.. 1982. Food as medicine and medicine as food: an adaptive framework for the interpretation of plant utilization among the Hausa of northern Nigeria. Social Science & Medicine 16: 1559–73. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/0277-9536(82)90167-8
Fediuk K. 2000. Vitamin C in the Inuit diet: past and present. Unpublished PhD dissertation, McGill University.
Fernandes P., Raynal J.-P. & Moncel M.-H.. 2008. Middle Palaeolithic raw material gathering territories and Neandertal mobility in the southern Massif Central of France: first results from a petro-archaeological study on flint. Journal of Archaeological Science 35: 2357–70. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2008.02.012
Gadsby P. & Steele L.. 2004. The Inuit paradox. Discover, October 2004, pp. 12–14.
Gracia A., Arsuaga J.L., Martínez I., Lorenzo C., Carretero J.M., Bermúdez de Castro J.M. & Carbonell E.. 2009. Craniosynostosis in the Middle Pleistocene human cranium 14 from the Sima de los Huesos, Atapuerca, Spain. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 106: 6573–78. http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0900965106
Hardy B.L. & Moncel M.-H.. 2011. Neanderthal use of fish, mammals, birds, starchy plants and wood 125–250,000 year ago. PLoS ONE 6 (8): e23768. http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0023768
Hardy B.L., Moncel M.-H., Daujeard C., Fernandes P., Béarez P., Desclaux E., Chacon Navarro M.G., Puaud S. & Gallotti R.. 2013a. Impossible Neanderthals? Making string, throwing projectiles and catching small game during Marine Isotope Stage 4 (Abri du Maras, France). Quaternary Science Review 82: 2340. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2013.09.028
Hardy K., Buckley S., Collins M.J., Estalrrich A., Brothwell D., Copeland L., García-Tabernero A., Garcia-Vargas S., de la Rasilla M., Lalueza-Fox C., Huguet R., Bastir M., Santamaría D., Madella M., Wilson J., Fernandez Cortés A. & Rosas A.. 2012. Neanderthal medics? Evidence for food, cooking, and medicinal plants entrapped in dental calculus. Naturwissenschaften 99: 617–26. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00114-012-0942-0
Hardy K., Buckley S. & Huffman M.. 2013b. Neanderthal self-medication in context. Antiquity 87: 873–78.
Henry A.G., Brooks A.S. & Piperno D.R.. 2011. Microfossils in calculus demonstrate consumption of plants and cooked foods in Neanderthal diets (Shanidar III, Iraq; Spy I and II, Belgium). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 108: 486–91. http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1016868108
Hublin J.-J. 2009. The prehistory of compassion. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 106: 6429–30. http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0902614106
Klein N., Fröhlich F. & Krief S.. 2008. Geophagy: soil consumption enhances the bioactivities of plants eaten by chimpanzees. Naturwissenschaften 95: 325–31. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00114-007-0333-0
Krief S., Martin M.T., Grellier P., Kasenene J. & Sévenet T.. 2004. Novel antimalarial compounds isolated in a survey of self-medicative behavior of wild chimpanzees in Uganda. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy 48: 3196–99. http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/AAC.48.8.3196-3199.2004
Krief S., Wrangham R.W. & Lestel D.. 2006. Diversity of items of low nutritional value ingested by chimpanzees from Kanyawara, Kibale National Park, Uganda: an example of the etho-ethnology of chimpanzees. Social Science Information 45: 227–63. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0539018406063642
Lalueza-Fox C., Rosas A., Estalrrich A., Gigli E., Campos P.F., García-Tabernero A., García-Vargas S., Sánchez-Quinto F., Ramírez O., Civit S., Bastir M., Huguet R., Santamaría D., Gilbert M.T.P., Willerslev E. & de la Rasilla M.. 2011. Genetic evidence for patrilocal mating behavior among Neanderthal groups. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 108: 250–53. http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1011553108
Le Divellec J. & Pécau Y.. 2000. La grande cuisine aux herbes, algues, fruits et fleurs. Paris: Solar.
Lordkipanidze D., Vekua A., Ferring R., Rightmire G.P., Agusti J., Kiladze G., Mouskhelishvili A., Nioradze M., Ponce de León M., Tappen M. & Zollikofer C.P.E.. 2005. Anthropology: the earliest toothless hominin skull. Nature 434: 717–18. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/434717b
Lupo K.D. & Schmitt D.N.. 1997. Experiments in bone boiling: nutritional returns and archaeological reflections. Anthropozoologica 25–26: 137–44.
McKay D.L. & Blumberg J.B.. 2006. A review of the bioactivity and potential health benefits of chamomile tea (Matricaria recutita L.). Phytotherapy Research 20: 519–30. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ptr.1900
Moncel M.-H., Moigne A-M. & Combier J.. 2012. Towards the Middle Paleolithic in Western Europe: the case of Orgnac 3 (south-eastern France). Journal of Human Evolution 63: 653–66. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2012.08.001
Outram A.K. 2001. A new approach to identifying bone marrow grease exploitation: why the indeterminate fragments should not be ignored. Journal of Archaeological Science 28: 401–10. http://dx.doi.org/10.1006/jasc.2000.0619
Roebroecks W. & Villa P.. 2011. On the earliest evidence for habitual use of fire in Europe. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 108: 5209–14. http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1018116108
Roebroecks W., Sier M.J., Nielsen T.K., De Loecker D., Parès J.M., Arps C.E.S. & Mücher H.J.. 2012. Use of red ochre by early Neandertals. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 109: 1889–94. http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1112261109
de Roode J.C., Lefèvre T. & Hunter M.D.. 2013. Self-medication in animals. Science 340: 150–51. http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1235824
Sherman P.W. & Billing J.. 1999. Darwinian gastronomy: why we use spices. BioScience 49: 453–63. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/1313553
Speth J.D. 2004. Bouilli ou rôti : reconnaître les méthodes de cuisson et en démontrer l’importance. Les nouvelles de l’archéologie 95: 2325.
Speth J.D. 2010. The paleoanthropology and archaeology of big-game hunting: protein, fat, or politics? New York: Springer.
Speth J.D. & Spielmann K.A.. 1983. Energy source, protein metabolism, and hunter-gatherer subsistence strategies. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 2: 131. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/0278-4165(83)90006-5
Stefansson V. 1944. Arctic manual. New York: Macmillan.
Wobber V., Hare B. & Wrangham R.. 2008. Great apes prefer cooked food. Journal of Human Evolution 55: 340–48. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2008.03.003
Wrangham R. 2009. Catching fire: how cooking made us human. New York: Basic.
Zielinski S. 2013. Stone Age stew? Soup making may be older than we’d thought. NPR News, 6 February 2013. Available at: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2013/02/06/171104410/stone-age-stew-soup-making-may-be-older-than-wed-thought (accessed 3 October 2014).
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Antiquity
  • ISSN: 0003-598X
  • EISSN: 1745-1744
  • URL: /core/journals/antiquity
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 11
Total number of PDF views: 57 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 592 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 23rd November 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.