Not just meat
Neanderthal groups exploited diverse biotopes, including open spaces, woods and mountainous areas. Their subsistence was based on general hunting and wild plant harvesting.
The study of fauna remains from the archaeological sites, as well as their subsequent laboratory analysis using, for example, stable isotopes, provides us with basic information about the diet of the Neanderthal groups. In general, these studies allow us to determine the importance of meat from terrestrial animals, such as deer, goat, lynx, rabbit and turtles, in the Neanderthal diet.
On the other hand, the study of the dental plaque gives interesting information about the consumption of plant matter at certain times of the year, particularly in the warmer seasons.
At archaeological sites in Gibraltar, including Vanguard and Gorham’s Cave, the consumption of marine resources such as seals, dolphins and molluscs has been documented. This habitual practice among Upper Palaeolithic groups is documented for the first time at those Neanderthal archaeological sites.
After a successful hunt, the game was prepared for eating. That is why we find evidence of cut marks, fire and fractures on the bones, in many cases to extract the marrow they contained.
The animals that were hunted depended on the geographical area the societies lived in. In the Mediterranean, people consumed large herbivores, such as deer, and small animals like rabbits.