Don’t laugh, but the discovery of the oldest known human faeces is offering valuable scientific insight into the lives of early human ancestors.
In a study published in PLOS One on June 25, scientists said they found five samples of human fecal matter at an archaeological site called El Salt, in the floor of a rock shelter where Neanderthals once lived some 50,000 years ago. Analysis of the samples provided a new understanding of the diet of this extinct human species, offering the first evidence that Neanderthals were omnivores who also ate vegetables as part of their meat-heavy diet, they said.
"So far, it is the only fossil evidence that gives us information of the ingestion and the regular meals of our ancestors," said Ainara Sistiaga, a geo-archaeologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and University of La Laguna who was one of the researchers. "Understanding the diet of past human species closely related to our own will help us gain perspective on our evolutionary constraints and adaptability," Sistiaga added.