Salt and Neandertals (Re: Sodium homeostasis... was Re: tears

H. M. Hubey (
30 Oct 1995 22:48:54 -0500

VINCENT@REG.TRIUMF.CA (pete) writes:

>Nevertheless, electrolyte loss through sweating is a problem,
>because people drink fresh water to replenish their fluid loss,
>so the net result is a constant fluid content, with fewer salts.
>Thus the advent of electrolytically balanced drinks for athletes.

Thank you very much.

That means that when (and if) the hominids/hominoids moved to the
savannah the loss of salt via sweat would have been disastrous
unless they started to harvest salt or found some way to find
salt. So if they did have any adaptation to efficiently excrete
excess salt at one time, they would have had to get rid
of it in a hurry. Besides, they still have about 3-4 My
to re-adapt.

But this brings up something that I've wondered about myself.

When did humans/hominids/humanoids start to harvest salt?

I don't see how Neanderthals could have done it. It must have
been discovered accidentally in some hot sea shore when the
sea water that ran into shallows would have evaporated and
left behind the salt deposits. Have any salt deposits
been found in Europe that might have developed via other
means (what??).

It seems that if the Neanderthals did not have salt, they
would have had a tough time preserving food. Their only
method would have been to use the winter cold for preserving
food. So during the summer, when they should have been
drying food (making jerky) they would have been gorging
themselves on the salmon that archaeologists say they never
farmed. They couldn't preserve it, so why take it back to
the caves. So, no bones!

That also gives an advantage to southerners (Cro-magnon)
for winter survival if they knew and used salt!!!

Without salt, the Neanderthals would have been forced to
hunt during winters and to use the cold to refrigerate
their catch until they ate it. They also could have had
problems moving their catch around back to the caves and
might have developed some temporary-domicile technology
so as to take themselves to the catch rather than bring
the catch to the cave. (why always cave??)

Anyway, in all likelihood, like all primitives they'd
have to use bones for building materials and things since
it would have been really difficult to construct shelter
chopping down trees in the middle of winter. This could
also explain the relative dearth of animal bones since
they could have been used all the time.

And one other question: If they did move around building
temporary shelters how did they keep warm? Chopping trees
would have been quite difficult. Even if they collected
wood for the caves during the summer, it could have
caused problems. The question is about the burning value
of bone. Is there enough carbon there to give off a good
hot fire? Could this explain why we don't see so many
bones ?

And finally, there are other minerals (I assume) found in
salt (iodine?). Would lack of such minerals have been the
cause of some special problems for the European (cold land)


Regards, Mark