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La Cotte, Jersey. Image credit Man vyi, courtesy Wikimedia Commons

In the final episode of the series Alice Roberts goes in search of our Stone Age ancestors, visiting La Cotte in Jersey where she meets a team of archaeologists hoping to shed new light on the Neanderthals, and embarking on a kayak survey of the coastline looking for undiscovered sites hidden in the cliffs. At the Natural History Museum she sees evidence of cannibalism and the ritual use of human skulls. Alice also meets a team who are hoping to unlock the secrets of Stonehenge, not on Salisbury plain, but in the Preseli Hills.
 
Screened on Friday, 30 September 2011 on BBC2 from 9:00pm to 10:00pm. See also Neanderthal survival story revealed in Jersey caves by Becky Evans.

Pallab Ghosh, science correspondent for BBC News, reports that –

“Neanderthals cooked and ate plants and vegetables, a new study of Neanderthal remains reveals. Researchers in the US have found grains of cooked plant material in their teeth. The study is the first to confirm that the Neanderthal diet was not confined to meat and was more sophisticated than previously thought. The research has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“The popular image of Neanderthals as great meat eaters is one that has up until now been backed by some circumstantial evidence. Chemical analysis of their bones suggested they ate little or no vegetables. This perceived reliance on meat had been put forward by some as one of the reasons these humans become extinct as large animals such as mammoths declined due to an Ice Age. But a new analysis of Neanderthal remains from across the world has found direct evidence that contradicts the chemical studies. Researchers found fossilised grains of vegetable material in their teeth and some of it was cooked.”

More here – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-12071424

See also – 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2010/dec/27/neanderthals-cooked-diet-us-research , http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1341983/How-Neanderthal-cuisine-far-sophisticated-thought.html and http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/neanderthals-could-cook-study-finds-2170403.html

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