The Dietary Commonality between Wolves, Vultures — and Humans

Marrow

One of the interesting things about reading textbooks about ancient humans is learning about how the human diet has changed — and how it's stayed the same. A lot of archaeological work involves digging through midden piles for detritus, and a lot of the trash archaeologists use comes from pottery shards and discarded bones. I've been cooking a lot of bone broth lately, and it got me to wondering — how else are bones used for food?

Quick Facts

  • Bone marrow is highly caloric and nutrient dense, making it one of the first "brain foods" available to early humans.
  • Dogs and wolves, when given carcass scraps, will gravitate toward cracking bones with high marrow content
  • The taste of bone marrow is described as possessing a subtle, creamy nuttiness that is rich and sometimes sweet.
  • The modern marrow spoon was developed in the 1680s.
  • Bone marrow makes up about 4% of an adult human's weight.

Cracking the Bone

Tool use was an advantage early humans had in terms of getting at bone marrow; it's best done with something like an axe or saw, or a big rock... or the ability to fly; vultures crack bones by dropping them from up high. [Read More]

Getting the Marrow

Cracking open large bones to get at the marrow inside takes either skill (sucking the marrow from the bone) or tools (to break open the bone; this is more often done to aid children). It is still considered an important part of a social meal in some parts of the world, much the same way that eating crabs is a lengthy social occasion in my home state of Maryland. [Read More]

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