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Ancient Romans ate giraffe, study finds

Researchers digging around the drains of ancient Pompeii have learned about some unusual Roman eating habits.
A giraffe stands in its enclosure at the Zoological Park of Paris, also known as the Zoo of Vincennes, in Paris on December 20, 2013. The zoo, which has been under renovation since 2008, is set to reopen in April 2014. AFP PHOTO/THOMAS SAMSON (Photo credit should read THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images)

Researchers digging around the drains of ancient Pompeii have learned about some unusual Roman eating habits.

The scientists found the remains of a giraffe and sea urchin in the drain of a onetime restaurant, LiveScience reports.

"This is thought to be the only giraffe bone ever recorded from an archaeological excavation in Roman Italy," researcher Steven Ellis, of the University of Cincinnati, says.

"How part of the animal, butchered, came to be a kitchen scrap in a seemingly standard Pompeian restaurant not only speaks to long-distance trade in exotic and wild animals, but also something of the richness, variety and range of a non-elite diet."

Indeed, the research contradicts the idea that less-wealthy Romans were a "mass of hapless lemmings" desperate for anything to eat.

The team dug up some 20 shop fronts, finding food and human waste in cesspits and latrines.

The oldest finds dated to the third century B.C.; spices came all the way from Indonesia, reports the Daily Mail, which has photos of the excavation.

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