New archaeological findings have shown that Neanderthal man lived on a diet of seafood in the caves of southern Spain much longer ago than previously thought.
Neanderthals living on the Iberian coast of Costa del Sol 150,000 years ago are said to have supplemented their diet with molluscs and marine animals.
After an archaeological examination of a cave in Torremolinos, early tools, used to crack open shellfish collected off rocks along the Iberian coast and fossilised remains of the early meals, were found.
The discovery is the earliest of its kind in northern Europe and shows that early man was a fish eater in Europe some 100,000 years earlier than previously thought.
The findings suggest that early coastal cavemen supplemented their hunter/gatherer diet of nuts, fruits and meat from animals such as antelopes and rabbits with seafood.
A team of archaeologists from Seville University and scientists from the National Council for Scientific Investigation (CSIC) published their research after a lengthy investigation involving the scientific dating of fossilised remains from the cave.
The discovery suggests that Neanderthals in Europe and Archaic Homo sapiens in Africa were following parallel behavioural trajectories but with different evolutionary outcomes, the paper claims.
“It provides evidence for the exploitation of coastal resources by Neanderthals at a much earlier time than any of those previously reported,” the Telegraph quoted Miguel Cortes Sanchez, who led the Seville University team, as saying.
“The use of shellfish resources by Neanderthals in southern Spain started some 150,000 years ago. It was almost contemporaneous to Pinnacle Point (in South Africa) when shellfishing is first documented in archaic modern humans,” the paper concluded.