Alimentation des humains modernes (Sapiens, Neandertal)

1. Généralités
2. Neandertal
3. Sapiens au paléolithique
4. Chasseurs-cueilleurs récents
5. Depuis le néolithique



Stable isotopes reveal patterns of diet and mobility in the last Neandertals and first modern humans in Europe
Wibing et al.
Nature Scientific Reports, 2019

Using the stable isotopic approach, we shed light on aspects of diet and mobility of the late Neandertals and UPMHs from the cave sites of the Troisième caverne of Goyet and Spy in Belgium. We demonstrate that their diet was essentially similar, relying on the same terrestrial herbivores, whereas mobility strategies indicate considerable differences between Neandertal groups, as well as in comparison to UPMHs. Our results indicate that UPMHs exploited their environment to a greater extent than Neandertals and support the hypothesis that UPMHs had a substantial impact not only on the population dynamics of large mammals but also on the whole structure of the ecosystem since their initial arrival in Europe.

Cooking shapes the structure and function of the gut microbiome
Carmody et al.
Nature, 2019

Because cooking is human-specific, ubiquitous and ancient6,7, our results prompt the hypothesis that humans and our microbiomes co-evolved under unique cooking-related pressures.

How carnivorous are we? The implication for protein consumption
Miki Ben-Dor
Journal of evolution and health, 2019

A drastic decline in terrestrial mammals took place from approximately 500 kgs at the beginning of the Pleistocene2.5 million years ago to about 10 kgs today.
Although we are undoubtedly omnivores, the biologic evidence that was presented here claims to show that we evolved, quite early in our evolution as the genus Homo, to become highly carnivorous and that we continue to retain a biologic adaptation to carnivory. This high level of carnivory means that during a large part of our evolution our diet was high in protein besides being high in fat.

Putrid Meat and Fish in the Eurasian Middle and Upper Paleolithic : Are We Missing a Key Part of Neanderthal and Modern Human Diet?
John D. Speth
PaleoAnthropology, 2017
If such food practices were in fact widespread during the mid- to late Pleistocene, they may help account for aspects of the archaeological record that are presently difficult to comprehend, such as the ‘on again, off again’ evidence for fire use (and hence cooking) during the Eurasian Middle Paleolithic. Putrefaction also may alter the isotopic composi-tion of the diet. As meat and fish decompose, a variety of volatile compounds are produced, including ammonia. Loss of NH3, along with lesser amounts of two other nitrogenous gases—cadaverine and putrescine—would very likely leave rotted meat and fish enriched in 15N by comparison to the isotopic composition of these foods in their fresh state. Such enrichment may have contributed to the elevated values seen in many Neanderthals, values that are widely taken as prima facie evidence of Neanderthal’s status as a ‘top predator.’ Finally, if Paleolithic foragers relied upon putrefaction to prepare and store meat, archaeologists may have to rethink the way they interpret a number of widely used taphonomic signatures, including the number and distribution of cutmarks, the extent of carnivore damage, the incidence of burning on both animal bones and stone tools, and the frequency and scale of hearths, ash lenses, and other features of combustion.
Evidence for chronic omega-3 fatty acids and ascorbic acid deficiency in Palaeolithic hominins in Europe at the emergence of cannibalism
J.L. Guil-Guerrero
Quaternary science revue, 2017
hominins at the M/UP transition had a deficit of both omega-3 fatty acids and ascorbic acid. Data on human organs summarized here are also conclusive: these contain such nutrients in amounts much higher than reached in the corresponding mammal organs consumed, and thus could have been alternative sources of those nutrients for Palaeolithic hominins. Therefore, nutritional cannibalism detected at such times could have had the function of alleviating these deficits. The evolutionary advantages gained by the consumption of the various omega-3 fatty acids of human origin are also discussed.

Recent elephant-carcass utilization as a basis for interpreting mammoth exploitation
Haynes, 2015

Both Pavlovian and Clovis people were close-range hunters who used spears and may or may not have had spear-throwers. The use of bow-and-arrow has also been proposed for Pavlovian, but not for Clovis. Both cultural complexes also probably used nets and snares to capture smaller animals. Lithic technology differed considerably – small blades in Pavlovian and bifaces in Clovis are the dominant forms. The larger Pavlovian settlements were preferentially situated in animal-migration bottlenecks, corridors connecting plains separated by mountains or highlands (Svoboda, 2007: 208). Herd animals that migrated through these corridors – reindeer, mammoths, horses – were hunted, and carnivores were also taken for food and furs, or for bones and teeth to use as raw materials (Table 3). Clovis sites are not so preferentially located in such well defined physiographic settings in North America. The extent that animals other than mammoths were taken by Clovis hunters for food is not clear; a continent-wide faunal list from 31 Clovis-era sites includes ∼20 mammalian taxa (Table 4), although not all of them may have been subsistence-related (Haynes and Hutson, 2013).

The origins and significance of coastal resource use in Africa and Western Eurasia
Curtis Marean
Journal of human evolution, 2014

This paper provides a critical review of where and when systematic use of coastal resources and coastal adaptations appeared in the Old World by a comparison of the records from Africa and Europe. It is found that during the Middle Stone Age in South Africa there is evidence that true coastal adaptations developed while there is, so far, a lack of evidence for even the lowest levels of systematic coastal resource use by Neanderthals in Europe.

Stature of early Europeans
When applied to the Palaeolithic-Neolithic transition, the isotopes broadly show
a diet rich in protein at the end of the glacial period, a diversification, with emphasis on fish resources during the Mesolithic, and an impoverishment during the


the amount of meat eaten decreased to about 10-20% of the Upper Palaeolithic optimum.

Dietary lean red meat and human evolution
Neil Mann
European journal of nutrition, 2000

In our own studies, we have shown evidence that diets high in lean red meat can actually lower plasma cholesterol, contribute significantly to tissue omega-3 fatty acid and provide a good source of iron, zinc and vitamin B12. A study of human and pre-human diet history shows that for a period of at least 2 million years the human ancestral line had been consuming increasing quantities of meat. During that time, evolutionary selection was in action, adapting our genetic make up and hence our physiological features to a diet high in lean meat. This meat was wild game meat, low in total and saturated fat and relatively rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA).



The exploitation of rabbits for food and pelts by last interglacial Neandertals
Pelletier et al.
Quaternary science reviews, 2019

The high frequency of rabbits in the Pié Lombard Mousterian assemblage, comprising at least 225 individuals, is unique for this period and probably reflects the location and function of the rock-shelter. The capture of such a hight number of this small mammal potentially required sophisticated acquisition techniques formerly known only from Upper Palaeolithic contexts.

New evidence of broader diets for archaic Homo populations in the northwestern Mediterranean
Morin et al.
Science advances, 2019

Investigating diet breadth is critical for understanding how archaic Homo populations, including Neanderthals, competed for seasonally scarce resources. The current consensus in Western Europe is that ungulates formed the bulk of the human diet during the Lower and Middle Paleolithic, while small fast prey taxa were virtually ignored. Here, we present a multisite taphonomic study of leporid assemblages from Southern France that supports frequent exploitation of small fast game during marine isotope stages 11 to 3. Along with recent evidence from Iberia, our results indicate that the consumption of small fast game was more common prior to the Upper Paleolithic than previously thought and that archaic hominins from the northwestern Mediterranean had broader diets than those from adjacent regions. Although likely of secondary importance relative to ungulates, the frequent exploitation of leporids documented here implies that human diet breadths were substantially more variable within Europe than assumed by current evolutionary models.

Stable isotopes reveal patterns of diet and mobility in the last Neandertals and first modern humans in Europe
Wibing et al.
Nature Scientific Reports, 2019

For both UPMH individuals, the two most relevant prey species are the mammoth and the reindeer. Each species comprised roughly 25–30% of the meat protein source. The rhinoceros contributed ca. 15 to 20%, the bovines and horses around 10% of the dietary proteins. Cave bears played the least important role, with a maximum contribution of around 5% of the total protein intake. These results are similar to those of Neandertals, which indicates that both UPMHs and Neandertals had a similar prey choice with preference for mammoth and reindeer.
[…] The zooarchaeological records from Goyet and Spy fully support mammoth hunting episodes with a special preference for younger individuals and possibly their mothers. Interestingly, based on stable isotopes, the mammoth seems to contribute the major part of the dietary protein of humans in a time range between 50,000 and 30,000 years ago and across wide areas spanning from SW France to the Crimean Peninsula

Mammouth pourcentages consommation

Exceptionally high δ15N values in collagen single amino acids confirm Neandertals as high-trophic level carnivores
Klervia Jaouen et al.
PNAS, 2019

Neandertals and carnivores clearly are at the same trophic level.

“Neanderthals, vitamin C, and scurvy”
John D. Speth.
Quaternary International, 2018

As a consequence, common methods of preparing meat for storage and consumption (e.g., drying, roasting, boiling) may lead to significant loss of vitamin C. There are two effective methods of minimizing such loss: (1) eating meat raw (fresh or frozen); and (2) eating the meat after it has been putrefied. Putrefaction has distinct advantages that make it a common, if not essential, way of preparing and preserving meat among northern latitude foragers and, for the same reasons, very likely also among Paleolithic foragers in the colder climes of Pleistocene Eurasia. Putrefaction “pre-digests” the meat (including the organs), making it much less costly to ingest and metabolize than raw meat; and it lowers the pH, greatly increasing the stability of vitamin C. These observations offer insights into critical nutritional constraints that likely had to be addressed by Neanderthals and later hominins in any context where their diet was heavily meat-based for a substantial part of the year.


Neanderthal behaviour, diet, and disease inferred from ancient DNA in dental calculus (p)
Weyrich et al.
Nature, 2017

At Spy cave, Belgium, Neanderthal diet was heavily meat based and included woolly rhinoceros and wild sheep (mouflon), characteristic of a steppe environment. In contrast, no meat was detected in the diet of Neanderthals from El Sidrón cave, Spain, and dietary components of mushrooms, pine nuts, and moss reflected forest gathering2,3. Differences in diet were also linked to an overall shift in the oral bacterial community (microbiota) and suggested that meat consumption contributed to substantial variation within Neanderthal microbiota. Evidence for self-medication was detected in an El Sidrón Neanderthal with a dental abscess4 and a chronic gastrointestinal pathogen (Enterocytozoon bieneusi).


Neandertal versus Modern Human Dietary Responses to Climatic Fluctuation
Sireen El Zaatari et al.
PLOS One, 2016

Specifically, whereas the Neandertals altered their diets in response to changing paleoecological conditions, the diets of Upper Paleolithic humans seem to have been less affected by slight changes in vegetation/climatic conditions but were linked to changes in their technological complexes. The results of this study also indicate differences in resource exploitation strategies between these two hominin groups. We argue that these differences in subsistence strategies, if they had already been established at the time of the first contact between these two hominin taxa, may have given modern humans an advantage over the Neandertals, and may have contributed to the persistence of our species despite habitat-related changes in food availabilities associated with climate fluctuations.

The Neandertal meal : a new perspective using faecal biomarkers
Sistiaga et al.
PLOS One, 2014

Analysis of five sediment samples from different occupation floors suggests thatNeanderthals predominantly consumed meat, as indicated by high coprostanol proportions, but also had significant plantintake, as shown by the presence of 5b-stigmastanol. This study highlights the applicability of the biomarker approach inPleistocene contexts as a provider of direct palaeodietary information and supports the opportunity for further research intocholesterol metabolism throughout human evolution.

Plant foods and the dietary ecology of Neanderthals and early modern
Henry et al.
Journal of human evolution, 2014

Our results suggest that both species consumed a similarly
wide array of plant foods, including foods that are often considered low-ranked, like underground
storage organs and grass seeds. Plants were consumed across the entire range of individuals and sites we
examined, and none of the expected predictors of variation (species, geographic region, or associated
stone tool technology) had a strong influence on the number of plant species consumed. Our data suggest
that Neanderthal dietary ecology was more complex than previously thought. This implies that the
relationship between Neanderthal technology, social behavior, and food acquisition strategies must be
better explored.

To meat or not to meat? New perspectives on Neanderthal ecology
Fiorenza et al.
American journal of physical anthropology

Neanderthals have been commonly depicted as top predators who met their nutritional needs by focusing entirely on meat. This information mostly derives from faunal assemblage analyses and stable isotope studies: methods that tend to underestimate plant consumption and overestimate the intake of animal proteins. Several studies in fact demonstrate that there is a physiological limit to the amount of animal proteins that can be consumed: exceeding these values causes protein toxicity that can be particularly dangerous to pregnant women and newborns. Consequently, to avoid food poisoning from meat‐based diets, Neanderthals must have incorporated alternative food sources in their daily diets, including plant materials as well.

Elephants and subsistence. Evidence of the human exploitation of extremely large mammal bones from the Middle Palaeolithic site of PRERESA (Madrid, Spain).
J. Yravedra et al.
Journal of Archaeological Science, 2012.

Earliest Known Use of Marine Resources by Neanderthals
Cortes-Sanchez et al.
PLOS One, 2011

We conclude that described use of shellfish resources by Neanderthals (H. neanderthalensis) in Southern Spain started ∼150 ka and were almost contemporaneous to Pinnacle Point (South Africa), when shellfishing is first documented in archaic modern humans.


Human consumption of tortoises at Level IV of Bolomor Cave (Valencia, Spain)
Ruth Blasco, 2008

Level IV of Bolomor Cave has provided sufficient evidence to show proof of human consumption of tortoises in Later Middle Pleistocene. The use of tortoises for food appears to be quite common among the hominids that occupied the cave at Level IV. Although some exceptions do exist, these human groups follow specific patterns to process the tortoises. These patterns have been observed in the systematic use of fire to consume the nutrients from these animals. Thus, the consumption sequence of these small prey starts with them being cooked. Habitually, the tortoises are placed into the fire upside down and are roasted in its shell.

Sapiens au paléolithique

The earliest direct evidence of mammoth hunting in Central Europe – The Kraków Spadzista site (Poland)
Piotr Wojtal et al.
Quaternary science review, 2019

The oldest unequivocal evidence of mammoth hunting in prehistoric Central Europe has been found in the Gravettian archaeological site Kraków Spadzista (Poland). The site contains thousands of lithic artifacts and the remains of >100 woolly mammoths (Mammuthus primigenius), with radiocarbon dates clustering ∼25–24 ka uncal BP. A fragment of a flint shouldered point is embedded in a mammoth rib, and more than 50% of the site’s flint shouldered points and backed blades bear diagnostic traces of hafting and impact damage from use as spear tips. Additional support for mammoth killing is the mortality profile of 112 mammoths from the site: some age groups may have been depleted due to recurring heavy hunting by humans during periods of environmental stress. The evidence for intensive human hunting could portend a development thousands of years later, at the end of the Pleistocene, when climate-caused habitat changes were more extreme, and, in combination with opportunistic human hunting, may have led to woolly mammoth extinction.

Elephant and Mammoth Hunting during the Paleolithic: A Review of the Relevant Archaeological, Ethnographic and Ethno-Historical Records
Aviad Agam & Ran Barkai
Quaternary, 2018
This study examines the archaeological evidence of proboscidean hunting during Paleolithic times, and provides a review of ethnographic and ethno-historical accounts, demonstrating a wide range of traditional elephant-hunting strategies. We also discuss the rituals accompanying elephant hunting among contemporary hunter-gatherers, further stressing the importance of elephants among hunter-gatherers. Based on the gathered data, we suggest that early humans possessed the necessary abilities to actively and regularly hunt proboscideans; and performed this unique and challenging task at will.
Reconstruction of the Gravettian food-web at Předmostí I using multi-isotopic tracking (13C, 15N, 34S) of bone collagen
Bocherens et al., 2015
Strong reliance on mammoth meat was found for the human of the site, similarly to previously analyzed individuals from other Gravettian sites in Moravia. Interestingly, the large canids interpreted as “Palaeolithic dogs” had a high proportion of reindeer/muskox in their diet, while consumption of mammoth would be expected from the availability of this prey especially in case of close interaction with humans. The peculiar isotopic composition of the Palaeolithic dogs of Předmostí I may indicate some control of their dietary intake by Gravettian people, who could have use them more for transportation than hunting purpose.

Hunters of the giants: Woolly mammoth hunting during the Gravettian in Central Europe
Piotr Wojtal & Jaroslaw Wilczynsky

Quaternary international, 2015

Between 30,000 and 20,000 years ago, Gravettian hunter-gatherers spread across most of Europe. In Central Europe, large and important sites have been discovered, especially those in the Czech Republic at the base of the Pavlovské (Palava) Hills, and in southern Poland. The remains of different mammalian carnivores and herbivores accumulated in bone assemblages at these Gravettian sites. Mammoth bones and teeth are significant components in them. Mammoths certainly played a significant role in the lifetime of the Central European societies of Gravettian hunter-gatherers. These Pleistocene giants provided not only food, but also raw materials for tools and the production of ornaments. The presence of the remains of many mammoths shows that the Gravettian people were specialized in the hunting of these animals.


How do you kill 86 mammoths? Taphonomic investigations of mammoth megasites
Pat Shipman, 2014

« The large number of individual mammoths and the scarcity of carnivore toothmarks and gnawing suggest a new ability to retain kill mammoths and control of carcasses. Age profiles of such mammoth-dominated sites with a large minimum number of individuals differ statistically at the p < 0.01 level from age profiles of Loxodonta africana populations that died of either attritional or catastrophic causes. However, age profiles from some mammoth sites exhibit a chain of linked resemblances with each other through time and space, suggesting the transmission of behavioral or technological innovation. I hypothesize that this innovation may have been facilitated by an early attempted domestication of dogs, as indicated by a group of genetically and morphologically distinct large canids which first appear in archaeological sites at about 32 ka B.P. »


Chasseurs-cueilleurs récents


Même avec une « much higer contribution » des plantes, les produits animaux restent à 35%, on mange tout dans l’animal, et il se peut que la contribution des insectes soit sous-estimée.

Current views on hunter‐gatherer nutrition and the evolution of the human diet
Alyssa Crittenden, Stephanie Schnorr
America journal of physical anthropology, 2017

These sources suggest that plants constitute a much higher contribution to the diet, approximately 65%, with animal products making up the remaining 35% (Eaton, Shostak, & Konner, 1988). In addition, a more recent analysis by Frank Marlowe (Marlowe, 2005; and also summarized in relation to the Hadza of Tanzania in his 2010 book, The Hadza) suggests that the median diet of warm‐climate foragers is composed of 53% gathered plant foods, 26% hunted foods, and 21% fished foods.[…]
In addition, meat consumed by foraging populations is not limited to large game muscle tissue and extends to all edible portions of the carcass—inclusive of organs, bone marrow, and sometimes even the contents of the gastrointestinal tract of the animal […] Furthermore, many populations also consume variable quantities of insects, which until quite recently were often discarded or underestimated.


Diets of modern hunter-gatherers vary substantially in their carbohydrate content depending on ecoenvironments: results from an ethnographic analysis
Alexander Ströhle & Andreas Hahn
Nutrition research, 2011

using data of plant-to-animal subsistence ratios, we calculated the carbohydrate intake (percentage of the total energy) in 229 hunter-gatherer diets throughout the world and determined how differences in ecological environments altered carbohydrate intake. We found a wide range of carbohydrate intake (≈3%-50% of the total energy intake; median and mode, 16%-22% of the total energy). Hunter-gatherer diets were characterized by an identical carbohydrate intake (30%-35% of the total energy) over a wide range of latitude intervals (11°-40° north or south of the equator). However, with increasing latitude intervals from 41° to greater than 60°, carbohydrate intake decreased markedly from approximately equal to 20% to 9% or less of the total energy. Hunter-gatherers living in desert and tropical grasslands consumed the most carbohydrates (≈29%-34% of the total energy). Diets of hunter-gatherers living in northern areas (tundra and northern coniferous forest) contained a very low carbohydrate content (≤15% of the total energy). In conclusion, diets of hunter-gatherers showed substantial variation in their carbohydrate content. Independent of the local environment, however, the range of energy intake from carbohydrates in the diets of most hunter-gatherer societies was markedly different (lower) from the amounts currently recommended for healthy humans.

Hunter-Gatherers and Human Evolution
Frank w. Marlowe
Evolutionary anthropology, 2005
Marlowe, 2005
Plant-animal subsistence ratios and macronutrient energy estimations in worldwide hunter-gatherer diets
Loren Cordain et al., 2000
Our analysis showed that whenever and wherever it was ecologically possible, hunter-gatherers consumed high amounts (45–65% of energy) of animal food. Most (73%) of the worldwide hunter-gatherer societies derived >50% (≥56–65% of energy) of their subsistence from animal foods, whereas only 14% of these societies derived >50% (≥56–65% of energy) of their subsistence from gathered plant foods. This high reliance on animal-based foods coupled with the relatively low carbohydrate content of wild plant foods produces universally characteristic macronutrient consumption ratios in which protein is elevated (19–35% of energy) at the expense of carbohydrates (22–40% of energy).
Total dependence on animal food

Traditional diet and food preferences of Australian Aboriginal hunter-gatherers
Kerin O’Dea, 1991

odea1991. différences aborigènes occidentaux


Paleolithic Nutrition, a consideration of it nature and current implications
Eaton & Konner
New England journal of medicine, 1985

Why hunters gather: optimal foraging and the Aché of eastern Paraguay
Kristen Hawkes, Kim Hill, James F. O’Connel, 1982.