Ancient ‘Iceman’ shows signs of a well-balanced last meal
Talk about a paleo diet. Scientists have uncovered the last meal of a frozen hunter who died 5,300 years ago in the Alps.
The stomach contents of the corpse, widely known as Oetzi the Iceman, offer a snapshot of what ancient Europeans ate more than five millennia ago, researchers said.
On the menu, described Thursday in the journal Current Biology, were the fat and meat of a wild goat, meat of a red deer and whole wheat seeds, which Oetzi ate shortly before his death.
Traces of fern leaves and spores were also discovered in Oetzi’s stomach. Scientists think he may have swallowed the plant unintentionally or as a medicine for parasites previously found in his gut.
“It was very impressive,” said lead author Frank Maixner, a microbiologist at the Institute for Mummy Studies in Bolzano, Italy. “We could see chunks and pieces of food with (the) naked eye.”
The remains of crudely fashioned stone tools unearthed in China advances the presence of human ancestors in Asia by around 200 millennia to 2.1 million years ago, scientists said Wednesday.
If correctly dated, the find means that hominins — the group of humans and our extinct forefather species — left Africa earlier than archaeologists have been able to demonstrate thus far, a team reported in the scientific journal Nature.
“Our discovery means that it is necessary now to reconsider the timing of when early humans left Africa,” said study co-author Robin Dennell of Exeter University in England.
Hominins are believed to have emerged in Africa more than six million years ago. They left the continent in several migration waves starting about two million years ago.
The first migrants were likely members of the species Homo erectus (upright man) or Homo ergaster (working man) — extinct predecessors of our own group, Homo sapiens (wise man), which first emerged about 300,000 years ago.
The oldest known African fossil attributed to a member of the Homo family is a 2.8 million-year-old jawbone from Ethiopia. (Agencies)