Components of a Neanderthal gut microbiome recovered from fecal sediments from El Salt

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


  • Simone Rampelli
  • Silvia Turroni
  • Carolina Mallol
  • Cristo Hernandez
  • Bertila Galvan
  • Sistiaga Gutierrez, Maria Ainara
  • Elena Biagi
  • Annalisa Astolfi
  • Patrizia Brigidi
  • Stefano Benazzi
  • Cecil M. Lewis
  • Christina Warinner
  • Courtney A. Hofman
  • Stephanie L. Schnorr
  • Marco Candela

A comprehensive view of our evolutionary history cannot ignore the ancestral features of our gut microbiota. To provide some glimpse into the past, we searched for human gut microbiome components in ancient DNA from 14 archeological sediments spanning four stratigraphic units of El Salt Middle Paleolithic site (Spain), including layers of unit X, which has yielded well-preserved Neanderthal occupation deposits dating around 50kya. According to our findings, bacterial genera belonging to families known to be part of the modern human gut microbiome are abundantly represented only across unit X samples, showing that well-known beneficial gut commensals, such as Blautia, Dorea, Roseburia, Ruminococcus, Faecalibacterium and Bifidobacterium already populated the intestinal microbiome of Homo since as far back as the last common ancestor between humans and Neanderthals. Simone Rampelli, Silvia Turroni and colleagues report ancient bacterial profiles of fecal sediments from four stratigraphic units of El Salt Middle Paleolithic site in Spain. The results of this study suggest a core human gut microbiome that could have been shared by Neanderthals and modern humans, and would pre-date the split between these two lineages.

Original languageEnglish
Article number169
JournalCommunications Biology
Issue number1
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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