Oldest Human Poop Discovered

Neanderthal latrine reveals omnivorous diet
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 26, 2014 1:47 AM CDT
Oldest Human Poop Discovered
A Smithsonian mural depicting Neandarthal life.   (AP Photo/American Museum of Natural History)

Neanderthals who squatted by a campfire in Spain around 50,000 years ago left something that has got today's scientists very excited. What is believed to be the oldest human poop ever discovered has yielded important information about the Neanderthal diet, Discovery reports. The leavings show that the Neanderthals weren't exclusively carnivorous, but also consumed a lot of plant-based food including roots, tubers, berries, and nuts, researchers say. Other studies found plant matter in Neanderthal teeth, but researchers say findings from the other end are more conclusive.

The poop is far older than the previous oldest find, 14,000-year-old droppings in Oregon, but researchers say ancient deposits are probably fairly common. They weren't on the lookout for prehistoric poop, but found it while looking for evidence of food preparation at the site. "No one has been looking for it," one researcher tells USA Today. "It's not because it's not there." The team says the study will help scientists "understand all aspects of why humanity has come to dominate the planet the way it does," although other researchers say bears, which are also omnivorous, may be the real source of the ancient poop. (In Denmark, archaeologists recently uncovered some 700-year-old poop—which still stank.)

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