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The exploitation of crabs by Last Interglacial Iberian Neanderthals:
the evidence from Gruta da Figueira Brava (Portugal)
Mariana Nabais, Catherine Dupont & João Zilhão 2023
Front.Environ.Archaeol. Sec.Zooarchaeology vol.2
Hominin consumption of small prey has been much discussed over the past decades.
Such resources are often considered to be unproductive in the mid-Paleolithic, due to their limited meat yield (low energy return).
But ethnographic studies suggest: small prey incl.shellfish are a reliable, predictable, by no means marginal resource,
there is increasing evidence for their inclusion in hominin diets, mid-Paleolithic & even earlier.
Gruta da Figueira Brava features a MIS 5c-5b Neanderthal occupation that left behind substantial, human-accumulated terrestrial & marine faunal remains, capped by reworked levels that contain some naturally accumulated, recent Holocene material, namely the remains of small crab spp & echinoderms.
The brown crab Cancer pagurus predominates in the intact mid-Paleolithic deposit,
reconstruction of its carapace width (based on regression from claw size) shows a preference for rel.large individuals.
The detailed analysis of the Cancer pagurus remains reveals:
complete animals were brought to the site, where they were roasted on coals, and then cracked open to access the flesh.