Jerusalem – Traces of tortoise shells and bones were found in an Israeli cave by archeologists from Tel Aviv University. The researchers concluded that due to the evidence of cracked open shells and cut marks, indicating that the animal was butchered, the cavemen used to enjoy the animals as a part of their diet.
The diet of prehistoric men was dominated by larger animals and vegetation, so the team believes that the tortoises were eaten as an appetiser. In the cave, the team also found signs of the tortoise been roasted, like burns and knife marks on the 400,000-year-old tortoise shells, according to Ran Barkai, a lead archaeologist of the team.
“Now we know they ate tortoises in a rather sophisticated way,” Barkai said. “It would have been a supplement – an appetiser, dessert or a side dish – to the meat and fat from large animals,” he added.
Other bones scattered throughout the cave confirmed their preference to larger animal’s meat like horses, fallow deer and wild ox. However, they also regularly ate plant-based food, as reported by The Christian Science Monitor.
It makes sense that the men ate the slow and petit animal, research has said that they are nutritional and really easy to be caught. The animals had a slow-energy requirement to be caught and a low risk to be hurt and ended up with significant wounds, those risks that came with the hunt of larger animals.
The Qesem cave, where the shells were found, was discovered in Israel on a road trip in 2000 and was believed to be inhabited for about 200,000 years. The cave has offered scientists a hint over the prehistoric age, helping them understand such a different lifestyle.
The prehistoric men were also found guilty of eating a large bird’s egg and leading him to its extinction, as the Genyornis newtoni was not able to keep their population. They found traces of burnt eggshell that lead to the conclusion they enjoyed the megafaunal egg.