Space & Innovation

Slow food: Prehistoric People Feasted on Turtles

Early humans ate the shelled swimmers alongside plants and large game animals, a Tel Aviv university study found.

Discoveries in an Israeli cave dating back 200,000 years show that early humans ate turtles alongside plants and large game animals, the Tel Aviv university said on Tuesday.

Turtle specimens found around the Qesem cave, some 12 kilometres (seven miles) east of Tel Aviv, also indicated the methods used to prepare them.

Early Humans Brought To Life In Exhibit: Photos

"Until now, it was believed that Palaeolithic humans hunted and ate mostly large game and vegetal material," Ran Barkai, one of the authors of the study, said in a statement.

"Our discovery adds a really rich human dimension –- a culinary and therefore cultural depth to what we already know about these people."

According to Avi Gopher, another author of the study, it was likely that large game animals such as horses, cattle and deer were hunted by adults, while children and the elderly caught the slow-moving turtles.

Paleolithic Hunter-Gatherers Loved Oatmeal Too

Barkai said that judging by marks on the shells, most of the turtles were roasted in them, while in some cases the shells were broken and then the reptiles were killed using flint tools.

The results of the study, conducted by Israeli, Spanish and German scientists, were published on Tuesday in the Quaternary Science Reviews journal.

Two 17,000-year-old skeletons have been brought to life in silicone models of the prehistoric humans at a new exhibit in Bordeaux, France. Artist Elisabeth Daynès created "Chancelade Man" and the "Woman of the Pataud Shelter" based on remains found in France's Dordogne region.

Photos: Faces of Our Ancestors

Daynès, a former prosthetic makeup artist turned sculptor and paleo-artist, spent seven years studying and creating models of the prehistoric humans. She describes her work saying, "I sculpt hypotheses."

The skeleton of the the approximately 60-year-old, blue-eyed "Chancelade Man" stands 6'2" tall. Chancelade Man's remains were discovered in 1888 in a rock shelter at Chancelade, southwestern France.

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The 17,000-year-old skeleton was found below the floor of a shelter in a curled posture -- a position that paleontologists say suggests he had been buried.

Daynès' likenesses are obtained by the computer modelling of multiple data points across the skull. Daynès then creates a silicone reconstruction of what the person could have looked like.

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Also, in the exhibit is Daynès' interpretation of a female prehistoric human based on the skeleton of a woman's remains also found in the Dordogne region.

The silicone model shows a woman, who is thought to have died aged 20 with brown eyes and a round face. "The most important aspect of my sculptures, is the look in the eyes," says Daynès. The

exhibition, called "Chairs de Origines,"

or "The Origins of Flesh" will be on display at a gallery in Bordeaux until December 5.