Nitrogen 15 - you are what you eat - answers page


1. What can Fig. 5.4 tell you about Neanderthal life?

Neanderthals ate less marine protein the we do today. They also got most of their protein from herbivores.  The diagram shows that they ate animal protein because their bone collagen show almost as high trophic level as modern humans. In fact we know from animal bones found with Neanderthals that they hunted large herbivores.  This shows how archaeologists need evidence from animal bones as well as isotope analysis to build up a more complete picture of neanderthal diet.

The measurement of nitrogen isotope levels from animals living today shows that Neanderthals had a higher trophic level than present day herbivores. This indicates that they hunted herbivores.

2. Are these groups of Neanderthals and modern humans completely distinct?

No. There is some overlap, and quite a large variation in the groups. This may be affected by where they lived and the individual lifestyle.

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