Europeans Ate Rodents 5,000 Years Ago, Says Study

Posted: Oct 19 2016, 12:44pm CDT | by , Updated: Oct 19 2016, 7:32pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News

 

Europeans Ate Rodents 5,000 Years Ago, Says Study
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Mammal bones collected from Skara Brae site reveal that rodents were apparently considered food in ancient Europe

Rodents may not be on the menu of European restaurants today but it does not mean that these animals were never been a part of their meals in the past.

A recently published report by Scottish researches claims that ancient Europeans feasted on rodents around 5,000 years ago. Researchers have reached to the conclusion after examining thousands of mammalian bones found at Skara Brae – a popular archeological site in Scotland.

“Rodents are frequently excavated from older archeological sites in Europe, but people have not examined why they are there," said Jeremy Herman, a biologist at the National Museums of Scotland in Edinburgh. 

“Maybe because they are not currently a food source in Europe, no one ever thought to ask if they had been in the past.”

Skara Brae is a Neolithic settlement, consisting of the remains of eight stone houses. Since 1970s, around 60,000 small mammal bones have been recovered from four trenches near the site. These bones were either belonged to wood mouse or the Orkney vole, a form of commonly found vole in Europe. But the relationship between the rodents and humans living in that period was never explained – until now.

In the latest study, researchers reveal that all four trenches had almost equal amount of rats but surprisingly one trench had a greater collection of vole bones compared to the other three. This suggests that rodents were generally not found inside the houses but they were deliberately brought there by the people. Moreover, many of those bones had burn marks on them, suggesting that the animals were roasted on fire as well. Then, they were likely eaten by the people. Though, rodents do not appear to be a primary food source in ancient Europe but earlier humans ate them at least occasionally.

“It could be that people ate them as a snack, or it was something they fell back on or harder times," said Herman. "Or maybe kids were catching them and then roasting them. It's hard to tell.”

Nevertheless, it’s the first study to describe Europeans’ unique food choice, which is not considered a food anymore.

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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