The purpose of this study was to determine whether the switch from a marine-based to a terrestrial diet in Britain during the Neolithic period occurred suddenly or slowly (over a millennium). This shift occurred between 5,200 and 4,500 years ago.
Richards measured stable carbon isotopes of ancient bones to study dietary patterns of the past. Marine and terrestrial protein isotopes vary in their ratios between carbon 12 and carbon 13.
The fishing lifestyle was quite beneficial to Paleolithic people. But, the lure of agriculture and animal husbandry must have been strong enough to cause the sudden change, although the cause of the change is unknown. The change occurred both along the coast (within 10 km of the ocean) and inland.
Marine and terrestrial proteins eaten give different isotope patterns in human bone collagen remains. Isotope patterns were studied from 164 Neolithic (5,200 to 4,500 years ago) and 19 Mesolithic (9,000 to 5,200 years ago) sites. Similar results were seen in sites in Denmark in which marine foods were rapidly abandoned and replaced by agricultural foods. Domesticated plants and animals were incorporated into the diet rapidly according to the present study, with the change occurred over a short period of time.
CONCLUSION: The switch from a marine diet to a terrestrial diet occurred suddenly with the onset of the Neolithic period. This switch puts stress on the human dietary genome, which may have developed 100,000 years ago, and this causes human diseases.
NOTE: The Paleolithic period, 99% of human history, was a time of hunter/gatherers, handmade tools, and various human species.
The Mesolithic period occurred at the end of the last Ice Age. The climate was more modern, the life style became more sedentary and agriculture was not yet developed.
The Neolithic period started with the use of wild cereals and better tools, with humans moving away from the ocean. There was only one human species. The Neolithic diet is considered to be out of balance with the needs of the human genome, which developed during the Paleolithic period. This could be the cause of many modern human chronic diseases, including cancer and autoimmune diseases.