Wild pigeons, another resource of the neanderthal diet

As it indicates a published study today in Scientific Reports

Recently, the systematic exploitation of the birds was considered a unique feature of modern human behavior

Among the suscriptors of this article is the IPHES ´s researcher Jordi Rosell


Not far away in time, the systematic exploitation of the birds for food was considered a unique feature of modern human behavior. However, some studies have hinted that this could not be this way. In this context an investigation that was published in the journal Scientific Reports found that neanderthals could also have hunted wild pigeons (ancestors of today) and formed part of their diet. In this work was involved Jordi Rosell, archaeologist, IPHES´s researcher and professor at the Universitat Rovira i Virgili of Tarragona (Spain).

To reach this conclusion, an international team led by Ruth Blasco and Clive Finlayson, both of the Gibraltar Museum, have analyzed wild pigeons bones discovered in Gorham’s Cave (Gibraltar), with a timeline ranging between 67,000 and 28,000 years before present. This time range coincided with the occupation of the cave by neanderthals and later Homo sapiens.

“In some of these bones -Jordi Rosell commented-, we have observed cut marks or signs of cremation, which may indicate that these birds may have been dismembered and cooked”.  “The amount of the bones found with cut marks, -pointed out the same archaeologist- was relatively small, but we must keep in mind that these animals required a minimum carnage and could be eaten directly with the hands. In this sense, they have identified human teeth marks on some bones, which are another evidence that birds were consumed by the inhabitants of the cave”.

With this work, the researchers propose that neanderthals may have had similar abilities to modern humans in the obtaining the the food.

Bibliographic reference

Blasco, R. et al. The earliest pigeon fanciers. Sci. Rep. 4, 5971; DOI:10.1038/srep05971 (2014)


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