Prehistoric Humans Dined On This Gross Delicacy

Prehistoric Humans Dined On This Gross Delicacy

Archeologists working in Spain have found evidence that humans were eating snails 10,000 years earlier than previously thought.

Snails don't often make the top of favorite food lists, but for early humans the slow-moving mollusks added diversity to their diet. At the Cova de la Barriada site in Spain, archeologists have discovered the earliest known evidence of snail consumption. People living along the Mediterranean coast in Africa and Europe were eating snails 20,000 years ago, but the Cova de la Barriada site is 10,000 years older. Archaeologies excavated 112 complete shells and hundreds of shell fragments of just one species, the large land snail Iberus alonensis, from a 30,000-year-old cooking pit. Charcoal in the cooking pit suggests that the snails were roasted on embers from pine and juniper wood before being eaten.

Lead study author Dr Javier Fernández-López de Pablo told the BBC that the fossils at Cova de la Barriada are "clearly the oldest record [of snail consumption] we have so far." The study, published August 20 in the journal PLOS ONE, presents the evidence that the snails were gathered and eaten by humans and not brought to the site by birds or small mammals. The patterns of damage on the fragmented shells are different from the patterns left by birds like blackbirds or parrots, and the shells do not show the typical gnawing patterns of rats or mice. Birds and small mammals can and do produce collections of shells, but usually of many different snail species. The presence of only a single snail species at the Cova de la Barriada site supports the conclusion that it was humans gathering the snails as a food source, and the consistent size of the shells suggests that only adult snails were eaten. This would help prevent overharvesting of the snails and keep them a sustainable food source in the area. The fact that the snails were found in and around a fire pit, which shows evidence of many controlled fires, further supports the theory that this site is evidence for human consumption of snails.

Other bone evidence at the site shows that the early humans living at Cova de la Barriada also ate rabbit, red deer, Spanish ibex, horse and aurochs. Today, snails are considered a delicacy in Spain. At the yearly L'Aplec del Caragol festival in May, tons of snails are eaten. Other modern snail dishes include the French appetizer escargot, where the snails are cooked in garlic butter or wine. Have you or would you ever eaten snails? I tried them once in a rather forgettable and chewy pasta dish. I think I'd rather chow down on honeyed locusts.

Source: PLOS ONE

Permalink

Foods like this are only "gross" depending on your culture, and often how well off you are.

thaluikhain:
Foods like this are only "gross" depending on your culture, and often how well off you are.

And on whether or not you've ever looked at a snail.

I've had snails before. Wasn't the best thing I ever tasted

I've had escargot. Mostly it was just a carrier for butter and garlic as there didn't seem to be a lot of flavor to the snails themselves.

Still...I'm not really surprised by this finding. Considering what people probably had to do to survive in those times, anything that was edible was probably eaten.

they're called The French, and I don't think they'd appreciate you calling them "prehistoric humans" :P

fun fact:

Lobster used to be considered "gross" due to their insectlike appearence, and were mainly fed to prisoners who didn't deserve "real" food, one time's "gross" is another time's "nom gief plz"

I'll try snail if it's cooked :D

Humans are not particularly picky eaters.

It's one of our evolutionary strengths, the ability to adapt our diet to whatever i available pretty much allowed us to live just about anywhere.

Never eaten snails, and I don't think I ever will. But that's what I said about octopus and squeid until I tried them on a pizza.

snail tastes ok and they are not slimy when cooked.
like little meatballs.

As a french myself, I've had a lot of escargots in my life. If you can get over the chewy texture, it's not too bad, mostly because you taste butter garlic and herbs.

Being french, i ate a lot. It's not that bad nor that good either (imo).
My grandfather ate them raw.

Is it weird that I have no problem with squid, crab, or lobster but wouldn't eat a snail? Squid are just as alien looking as snails. Crabs are essentially the rats of the ocean. Lobsters look like giant aquatic scorpions. None of these things look appetizing. However, I love calamari, crabs legs, and baked stuffed lobster.

Cultures are weird.

Never had snail but I'd be willing to give it a shot. I don't see how it could be any worse than clams or oysters. I'm not a fan of either mostly from a texture standpoint rather than flavor.

Snail is delicious with garlic, butter and cheese.

So prehistoric humans were french? lol. I could never eat snails - think i will still to cows, pigs and sheep.

Anything is good if you sautee it with a bit of butter.

AdamG3691:
they're called The French, and I don't think they'd appreciate you calling them "prehistoric humans" :P

fun fact:

Lobster used to be considered "gross" due to their insectlike appearence, and were mainly fed to prisoners who didn't deserve "real" food, one time's "gross" is another time's "nom gief plz"

Chacun ses goûts, as they say!

Could we stop doing "Clickbait" titles for the news articles? A proper news title should convey the point of the actual story, in this case that humans were eating snails earlier than we expected. A news title for this story should be something like "Prehistoric humans consumed snails earlier than previously thought." An title that doesn't say *what* people were eating is DELIBERATELY OBTUSE, and tailored to get people to read the article. Furthermore, the addition of "gross" is unprofessional and subjective but again, designed to get people to click on the article.

TL:DR News stories such as these need to have professional and proper titles. The Escapist professes to offer "high-quality, innovative and exclusive content with a considered approach to its audience." I don't see that here.

If they cook them first then there's nothing wrong with it. Raw snails can cause your brain to swell, leading in death. Snails can also trigger shellfish allergies for some reason.

FakDendor:
Could we stop doing "Clickbait" titles for the news articles? A proper news title should convey the point of the actual story, in this case that humans were eating snails earlier than we expected. A news title for this story should be something like "Prehistoric humans consumed snails earlier than previously thought." An title that doesn't say *what* people were eating is DELIBERATELY OBTUSE, and tailored to get people to read the article. Furthermore, the addition of "gross" is unprofessional and subjective but again, designed to get people to click on the article.

You know what worse. When title was obviuosly deliberately changed to be more clickbaity as evident by remaining links and page titles that are more descriptive:

Capcha: signs point to yes

See, even Capcha agrees

well ive had escargot before its pretty good but then again anything tastes good when it tastes like garlic butter i also like huhu grubs but they taste like condensed milk raw and like garlic butter if you cook them like that

I've had snails once in my life about a decade ago. I remember it tasting pretty good.
There isn't anywhere within walking distance that I can afford that serves it, so I haven't had them in a long time.

 

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here