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Neanderthals Also Ate Veggies, Analysis of World's Oldest Human Poop Suggests

Update Date: Jun 27, 2014 10:26 AM EDT

World's oldest human poo, uncovered in Spain shows that the Neanderthals ate vegetables too, according to a new study. 

The discovery was made at the archeological site of El Salt where researchers have found signs of Neanderthals living around 45,000-60,000 years ago. 

The study is first to analyze feces in attempt to determine precisely what kinds of foods our ancestors used to have.

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) lab discovered biomarkers in the poo that showed coprostanol, a lipid formed when the gut metabolizes cholesterol, particularly from eating animals.

Researchers also noted the presence of 5B-stigmastanol, a substance that is made when plants are broken down in the digestive process.

'We believe Neanderthals probably ate what was available in different situations, seasons and climates,' said Ainara Sistiaga, a graduate student at the University of La Laguna who performed the research while studying at MIT, according to The Nation.

Previous studies suggested that Neanderthals used to have nuts and plants. The observation was made based on the residue found in their teeth. 

'It's important to understand all aspects of why humanity has come to dominate the planet the way it does,' said Summons, a professor of geobiology in MIT's Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences. 'A lot of that has to do with improved nutrition over time.'

The study has been published in the journal PLOS ONE.

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