Gazelle with occasional ostrich egg on menu for earliest humans, says UC Davis researcher

An ostrich egg.
An ostrich egg. Modesto Bee

Dinner time for the oldest-known Homo sapiens was heavy on gazelle meat, according to a UC Davis paleoanthropologist.

“It seems like people were fond of hunting,” said the university’s Teresa Steele.

Steele examined fossil bones and shells from the Jebel Irhoud archaeological site in Morocco, where human ancestors lived 300,000 years ago. The excavation project uncovered 16 new Homo sapiens fossils along with stone tools and animal bones.

In addition, most of the non-human bones show that the menu for the earliest humans was heavy on meat. Most of the animal bones come from gazelles, but there were also the cut and broken bones of hartebeests, wildebeests, zebras, buffaloes, porcupines, hares, tortoises, freshwater mollusks, snakes and ostrich eggs.

The cuts and breaks on long bones indicate that early men and women broke them to get to the marrow for eating, according to a university news release.

Steele, part of an international research team that started excavating the Morrocan site in 2004, studies how food and environmental change influenced human evolution and migration.

She is co-author of a paper in the June 8 issue of Nature: “Human origins: Moroccan remains push back date for the emergence of Homo sapiens.”

Bill Lindelof: 916-321-1079, @Lindelofnews