The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)

The diet of Neandertals at Krapina: Evidence from dental microwear texture


1Department of Anthropology, Tulane University, 2Department of Anthropology, University of Indianapolis

Friday Afternoon, 200DE Add to calendar

The burgeoning field of dental microwear texture analysis (DMTA) provides an opportunity to assess Neandertal diet-related occlusal microtopography via scale-sensitive fractal geometry. Variables included anisotropy (the degree to which microwear shares orientation), complexity (surface roughness), and textural fill volume (the surface removed by microwear). The authors gathered DMTA data from 19 Krapina molars in order to determine the diet of Neandertals at that site. During the time of Neandertal occupation, Krapina was surrounded by an open forest or parkland, therefore, we hypothesized that Krapina would have texture values that are lower than those reported for Neandertals and anatomically modern humans (AMH) living in heavily wooded environments. We found that Krapina had high anisotropy (0.0043), low complexity (1.12), and low textural fill volume (35,518) values. The low complexity indicates the consumption of softer foods including meat, while the high anisotropy indicates the consumption of fibrous plants, including grasses. Thus, the anisotropy value contradicts a diet solely of meat and indicates a broader dietary spectrum for Neandertals than is sometimes reported. This research contributes to the growing body of evidence in support of Neandertal plant consumption, and provides an opportunity to investigate whether the high anisotropy at Krapina is a result of eating grasses.

Supported by NSF: BCS-0922930

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