Neanderthals Were Pretty Good Cooks

Scientists have discovered bits of cooked plants in the teeth of Neanderthals, contradicting the conventional wisdom that they only ate meat, and proving that the hominids hadn't yet developed sophisticated toothpick technology.

Until recently, most analyses of Neanderthal remains supported the conclusion that they were mostly carnivorous. Tests on Neanderthal bones showed high levels of proteins, which scientists believed was due to a meat-heavy diet. But! As it turns out, Neanderthals loved a good cooked veggie dish:

But a new analysis of Neanderthal remains from across the world has found direct evidence that contradicts the chemical studies. Researchers found fossilised grains of vegetable material in their teeth and some of it was cooked.

Although pollen grains have been found before on Neanderthal sites and some in hearths, it is only now there is clear evidence that plant food was actually eaten by these people.

The evidence, of course, is the little bits of vegetables stuck between the Neanderthal teeth. (Although, who knows, maybe they were just putting plants in their mouths? And then taking them out?)

[BBC; image via AP]