cavemen meat cavemen meat Evidence at a dig site in Israel has revealed early man created tools more than 500,000 years ago to cut up animals for meat. (Photo: Nomad_Soul /Shutterstock)

Ancient stone tools reveal cavemen loved steak

Newly discovered artifacts show how our ancestors cut into and separated meat from animals.

Remember the closing credits of the popular "Flintstones" cartoon that featured our favorite Stone Age family enjoying a car-sized rack of ribs from a prehistoric restaurant drive-thru? While our early ancestors didn't have it quite that easy, a new discovery has shown for the first time how early man actually went about cutting up his dinner.

Researchers excavating a site in Israel dating back to the Lower Paleolithic era (about 2,500,000 to 200,000 years ago) found flint hand axes and scrapers bearing 500,000-year-old animal fat residue. Scattered among the tools were the remains of butchered animals, including what would likely be a Barney Rubble or Fred Flintstone favorite: elephant ribs.

By replicating the tools and using them in a modern butchering experiment, the researchers were able to determine that the handaxe functioned as prehistoric man's "Swiss army knife," useful for cutting and breaking down bone and hide. The scrapper was then used to separate both fur and fat from the muscle tissue.

While it's evident that early man hunted for the occasional good steak every now and again, the majority of their diet was rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds – all tenants of the extremely popular, early-human-inspired Paleo diet.

Paleo dietEggs mixed with olives, peppers, and fresh greens are an excellent, healthy mix and a staple of the Paleo diet. (Photo: Kamila i Wojtek Cyganek/Shutterstock)

"Paleo is the attempt to find a healthy matrix of foods which lead to optimal human wellness," Jason Agnello, a New York-based Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, told From The Grapevine. "It so happens that the macronutrient profile of many ancestral foods is similar to a diet which avoids refined sugars and processed grains."

Agnello describes the Paleo as "fluid," with rules that can be modified to reflect an individual's needs. By following the hunter and gatherer approach of our Stone Age ancestors (embracing nutrient-dense veggies, nuts, eggs, and meats, dropping processed foods and nutritionally sparse grains), he says individuals can expect improvements in body composition, cardiovascular health, autoimmune disorders and even mood.

paleo diet pork cabbageA little meat and lots of vegetables (such as this pork and cabbage combo) can have a big impact on improving overall health. (Photo: Petr Jilek/Shutterstock)

"Unlike other dietary guidelines, those of Paleo are constantly changing, as new information is uncovered," he added. "It’s the only food plan that I know of that’s obligated to evolving with new findings in science."

So the next time you're cutting up a steak or slicing meat off a rib, remember to toast those wise Flintstones who came before us. Oh, and pass the veggies.

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