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Build A Meal And We'll Reveal If You'd Survive As A Neanderthal

Scientists have analysed plaque on Neanderthal teeth and worked out what some of them actually ate. Could you stomach it?

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  1. Choose a protein source:

    SayCheesePlease / Getty Images
    A tasty lamb chop
    Some woolly rhinoceros (yum)
    I'd rather have tofu, thanks
  2. Choose a vegetable to have with it:

    Mushrooms
    Via Getty
    Mushrooms
    Via Getty
    Kale
    Via Getty
    Kale
    Via Getty
    I'm not into vegetables
    Via Emojipedia
    I'm not into vegetables
    Via Emojipedia
  3. How much do you want to add a carb to this meal?

    scorpp / Getty Images
    Carbs are my life
    I can live without carbs if I need to
  4. Choose something to snack on later:

    Pine nuts
    Pine nuts
    Crisps
    Crisps
    Chocolate
    Chocolate
  5. Would you eat this moss if you had to?

    Getty Images
    Yes
    No
  6. What drink do you want after your meal?

    Wine
    Wine
    Tea
    Tea
    Just water
    Just water
  7. After eating all this you don't feel that great. Would you chew on some tree bark as a painkiller?

    Getty Images
    I'd give it a go!
    Um, pass the paracetamol, please

Build A Meal And We'll Reveal If You'd Survive As A Neanderthal

You got: You could survive eating like a Neanderthal!

You might not enjoy them all, but it seems that you'd happily eat some foods we now know at least some Neanderthals lived on, and could probably stomach some of the others too if you absolutely had to. Now you just have to decide if you'd go veggie and eat mushrooms, moss, pine nuts, and tree bark – or hunt your food and eat meat from the woolly rhinoceros and wild sheep.

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You got: You would not survive eating like a Neanderthal

It looks like you wouldn't stomach life as a Neanderthal. Which is fine, because we have a lot of foods these days that are a lot tastier than moss and woolly rhinoceroses, tbh.

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We know that some Neanderthals actually ate mushrooms, moss, wild sheep, and woolly rhinos because scientists have analysed the DNA found in ancient plaque on their teeth.

Paleoanthropology Group MNCN-CSIC

In a paper published in the journal Nature today, Laura Weyrich from the University of Adelaide and her colleagues describe what they found when they analysed the plaque found on the teeth of five Neanderthals: two found in Spain, two from Belgium, and one from Italy.

Some of them – the hunters – ate meat, but others appear to have been foragers with vegetarian diets.

The team found traces of woolly rhinoceros and wild sheep, showing that two of the Neanderthals lived up to their meat-eating reputation. But others show no evidence of having eaten meat, and seem to have made up a vegetarian diet including mushrooms, moss, and pine nuts by foraging from their surroundings.

This matches up with previous research that has also suggested the same group of Neanderthals from Spain did not eat meat. "We were joking around a lot saying that the [Spanish Neanderthals] are probably on the true paleo diet, this opportunistic diet of eating anything you can find to keep yourself alive, rather than going into a grocery store and picking out what vegetables you'd like to eat," Weyrich told BuzzFeed News.

She cautions that it's not yet clear whether what she and her colleagues found gives a comprehensive view of what these populations ate, or just a snapshot of what they ate right before they died.

“We really don’t know if we’re looking at their last meal, or random bits over their last 10 years of meals,” she said. "But we really think that the diets do reflect different lifestyles and ways of living and different environments the Neanderthals were living in, i.e. what food they had access to."

The team also found that one Neanderthal seemed to have treated a dental abscess using the bark from the poplar tree – a natural painkiller because it contains salicylic acid, an ingredient in aspirin.

  1. So now we know a bit more about their diet...do you think you'd survive eating like a Neanderthal?

    Yes, bring on the moss and tree bark
    Yes, but only as a meat-eating Neanderthal
    Absolutely not

Build A Meal And We'll Reveal If You'd Survive As A Neanderthal

Take quizzes and chill with the BuzzFeed app.
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So now we know a bit more about their diet...do you think you'd survive eating like a Neanderthal?
  1.  
    vote votes
    Yes, bring on the moss and tree bark
  2.  
    vote votes
    Yes, but only as a meat-eating Neanderthal
  3.  
    vote votes
    Absolutely not

Kelly Oakes is science editor for BuzzFeed and is based in London.

Contact Kelly Oakes at kelly.oakes@buzzfeed.com.

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