Neanderthals were big-game hunters who feasted on mammoth and rhino but didn’t or couldn’t eat smaller, leaner meat. Their picky diet — or limited hunting skills — could have made them vulnerable when mammal populations shrank and their favorite dinner became harder to find.
A broad survey of animal remains recorded at early human and Neanderthal sites across Spain, Portugal and France gives us new insight as to what humans and Neanderthals ate. One trend stuck out to scientists who assembled the data: Rabbit remains became much more popular at human sites just about the time that Neanderthals disappeared, about 30,000 years ago.
Given how common bunnies would have been in that area, the trend hints that Neanderthals did not adapt their diet to include them. After all, the evidence suggests, early humans seem to have made the switch.