Scatological science: oldest human poop fossils no laughing matter

Wed Jun 25, 2014 8:30pm EDT
 
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By Will Dunham

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Don't laugh, but the discovery of the oldest known human poop is offering valuable scientific insight into the life of Neanderthals who lived in Spain some 50,000 years ago.

Scientists said on Wednesday they found five samples of human fecal matter at an archeological site called El Salt, in the floor of a rock shelter where Neanderthals once lived.

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.

The straight poop: Fossil feces is not merely prehistoric toilet humor.

  Continued...

 
The El Salt archeological site, a known site of Neanderthal occupation in southern Spain that dates back 50,000 years, is pictured in this undated handout photo obtained by Reuters June 25, 2014.  REUTERS/Ainara Sistiaga/Handout via Reuters