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

Rich Travsky (rtravsky@UWYO.EDU)
3 Nov 95 13:39:52 MST (H. M. Hubey) writes:
>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.
Has it occurred to you that their metabolism could've recovered
salt from their diet? A handy adaption. There are many creatures
that get their only water form their diet and not from standing
bodies of water, for example.

>But this brings up something that I've wondered about myself.
>When did humans/hominids/humanoids start to harvest salt?
Who says they had to? You're viewing them like modern homo
sapiens. There are many peoples on the planet far removed from salt
sources. And they survived.

>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!
How do, say, eskimos and other northern peoples handle it?
How do peoples in warmer climes handle long term food storage?
Rather than guess why not look at the ethnographic data and
see how other peoples and cultures met the problem. You may
find it wasn't a problem after all.

>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??)
Do eskimos hunt in the winter? What's wrong wth hunting
in the winter? Are we supposed to imageine them just sitting
around chewing jerky, waiting for spring?

>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 ?
Why do you insist on their having to have fires going all the
time? Northern peoples do fine without a lot of wood sources.
Tierra del Fuegans lived practically naked in a harsh
environment. You judge too much by what modern homo sapiens
do and prefer.

>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)