An­cient ‘Ice­man’ shows signs of a well-bal­anced last meal

Arab Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

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.”

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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)

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