The Aquatic Neanderthal: They Could Swim and Dive for Clams


Neanderthals could swim. Not only could they swim: They were diving possibly as much as 4 meters (13 feet) deep for live clams, in Italy at least, an international team of archaeologists reported in PLOS One on Wednesday.

Strangely, even though the Neanderthals on the Italian coast seemed to dote on mussels, they don’t seem to have been clamming for consumption. They were using the shells of a very specific species mainly, and perhaps solely, to make scraping tools, Paola Villa of the University of Colorado Boulder and colleagues report, based on reanalysis of findings made decades ago. […]

The assumption had been that the Neanderthals just picked up shells on the beach, as people do. And they did. But the supposition that Neanderthals just collected dead mollusks on the beach is “incomplete,” claim Villa and her colleagues. Most of their shell-tools seem to have been made using deceased gastropods washed ashore. But a fifth to a quarter of the specimens found at the cave sites of Moscerini and Cavallo seem to have been collected alive off the seafloor.

Read Haaretz

neanderthal photo

Photo by Allan Henderson


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Production engineer and certified swim coach. Full-time IT consultant, spare-time swimming aficionado. 2 sons, 2 daughters and a wife. President of the Faroe Islands Swimming Association. Likes to run :-)

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