Neanderthals Dined on Cooked Veggies: Study

woman, scientist, skull, prehistoric, neanderthal, istockphoto, 4x3
istockphoto
woman, scientist, skull, prehistoric, neanderthal, istockphoto, 4x3
New research suggests Neanderthals ate cooked veggies, contrary to previous findings. (istockphoto)


(CBS) You're behaving like a caveman!

What sounds like a put-down might actually be a compliment, at least when the conversation turns to culinary matters. A new study suggests that Neanderthals were more sophisticated in their eating habits than previously thought, dining not only on vegetables but on cooked veggies.

So much for being savages.

The study seems to contradict previous studies suggesting that Neanderthals were mostly or even completely carnivorous. Those studies were based on the chemical analysis of prehistoric bones. The new study, published in the "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences," revealed bits of cooked grains in Neanderthal teeth.

"Our results indicate that in both warm eastern Mediterranean and cold northwestern European climates, and across their latitudinal range, Neanderthals made use of the diverse plant foods available in their local environment and transformed them into more easily digestible foodstuffs in part through cooking them, suggesting an overall sophistication in Neanderthal dietary regimes," George Washington University's Amanda G. Henry and her colleagues wrote in the study's abstract.

Neanderthals, also known by the scientific name Homo neanderthalensis, lived in Europe and Asia about 200,000 to 28,000 years ago, according to the website of the National Museum of Natural History. Paleontologists have theorized that they died out, in part, as a result of the extinction of the mammoths and other large animals on which they supposedly depended upon for food, according to the BBC.