Cavemen First Ate Snails 30K Years Ago

They even roasted them at site in modern-day Spain
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 24, 2014 6:40 AM CDT
Cavemen First Ate Snails 30K Years Ago
File photo of a snail farm in the village of Krushovitsa, Bulgaria.   (AP Photo/Valentina Petrova)

The delicacy of escargot is by no means a modern one: It seems cavemen were munching on snails between 26,000 and 31,000 years ago. That's the age of an Iberian Peninsula site found by archaeologists and described in a new paper, Haaretz reports. Remains of Iberus alonensis snails—specifically, lots of shells—were found in the area. Researchers were even able to detect how the creatures were cooked: Using pine and juniper wood as tools, Homo sapiens roasted the snails at temperatures about 700 degrees Fahrenheit.

"What this suggests is that these groups (of humans) had already opted for a strategy of diet diversification that allowed them to increase their population," an expert tells the BBC. The Iberian Peninsula is home to what is now Spain; it wasn't for another 10,000 years that researchers suggest snails were being eaten in the Middle East and the south Mediterranean. Iberus alonensis snails are still around; perhaps conveniently, they live near rosemary and thyme plants, notes the BBC. (Giant African snails in picnic baskets—labeled as food—recently caused trouble at Los Angeles International Airport.)

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