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Rethinking the Paleo Diet: Would You Eat the Contents of a Deer’s Stomach?

Animal stomachs for everybody!

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A true paleo diet would take this more literally. Photo: PandaWhale

As we at Smart News have written before, the idea that modern humans—now evolutionarily separated from our paleolithic ancestors by tens of thousands of years—can flip back to an earlier lifestyle and expect it to work well for us doesn’t always pan out. Take the paleo diet: the idea is to relive the healthy lifestyles of the past by grazing on nuts and gourds and grass-fed meat. But there’s a practical point to consider. What if the paleo diet you think you know isn’t the actual paleo diet? And, if what our ancestors ate looked a little different than the spread at a farmers’ market, would you still be so keen to eat it?

According to new research, says the Guardian, there’s a different way to interpret all the lovely grasses and grains and flowers found stuck in the teeth of ancient Neanderthals, other than assuming they were munching on a hearty salad.

There are other, equally valid but decidedly more grisly explanations to account for those microscopic fragments of herbs and plants found in Neanderthal teeth.

In a paper by Laura Buck and Chris Stringer and published in the latest edition of Quaternary Science Reviews, Stringer argues that the tiny pieces of plant found in Neanderthal teeth could have come from a very different source. They may well have become embedded in the stomach contents of deer, bison and other herbivores that had then been hunted and eaten by Neanderthals.

So if you really want to dine in style, go down to the butcher and ask them for a still-stuffed stomach. If you do so, says the Guardian, you’ll be among good company:

“Many hunter-gatherers, including the Inuit, Cree and Blackfeet, eat the stomach contents of animals such as deer because they are good source of vitamin C and trace elements,” said Stringer. “For example, among the Inuit, the stomach contents of an animal are considered a special delicacy with a consistency and a flavour that is not unlike cream cheese. At least that is what I am told.”

More from Smithsonian.com:

Stop Trying to Live Like a Caveman

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About Colin Schultz
Colin Schultz

Colin Schultz is a freelance science writer and editor based in Toronto, Canada. He blogs for Smart News and contributes to the American Geophysical Union. He has a B.Sc. in physical science and philosophy, and a M.A. in journalism.

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