Welcome to the discussion thread for the story, Holed Up in a Portuguese Cave, Neanderthals Supped on Seafood. You can share your comments and thoughts about the story in the conversation below.
Serendipity strikes again! Being confined to quarters, I found myself going crosseyed with information overload reviewing the most current revisions of human origins research. The Portuguese Cave article based upon the work of Joao Zilhao was among many I’d encountered previously from other sources. However the AO article jogged my memory because my Croatian archaeologist friend was a close follower of Zilhao and had attended several of his lectures in Australia and Europe. I forwarded the cave article to her and another archaeologist friend thinking they probably had read it already but I wanted to make sure while at the same time promoting Atlas Obscura as an unlikely but very valuable archaeological resource. It turned out Vesna had missed that paper by Zilhao and found many pieces of information useful in her current project that involves the art and spiritual concepts of the Neanderthals. While the AO articles are geared toward the general reader, the references frequently found within them are a good jumping off point for specialists headed for the harder stuff. In addition the photos and commentary by members with onsite experience is proving invaluable in these times when physical access to many of these sites is impossible.
The Gastro Obscura entries motivated me to read a technical paleontology paper that I otherwised would have scrolled past without a second glance. But within it I found that the European Cave Bear had become extinct because its enlarged sinuses adapted to Ice Age conditions at the expense of a weakened jaw. Its mostly vegetarian diet did not provide it with enough fats and protein to fuel its metabolism during its extended hibernation period. Many died in their sleep and because they used the same caves year after year they were caught napping when the next apex predator appeared on the scene to replace them. That predator walked on two legs and was a real firebug.