Cro-Magnon humans ate large land and marine mammals, fish and plant material. Cro-Magnon humans also turned to hunting smaller mammals, such as rabbits, at the end of the last ice age as the larger land animals began to disappear.
The sophistication of Cro-Magnon hunting tools dictated what they could eat. One such tool, the spear thrower, increased the force and distance that Cro-Magnon hunters could launch their spears. This made it easier to bring down large mammals, such as mammoths, reindeer, red deer, roe deer, horses and cave bears. These animals began to disappear as Cro-Magnons became increasingly more efficient at hunting and killing large game. For example, by the end of the last ice age, 12,500 years ago, reindeer accounted for nearly 95 percent of all the large mammals that Cro-Magnons ate in what is now modern-day France.
This decrease in large mammals caused Cro-Magnons to turn to rivers, streams, lakes and oceans to find other sources of food. The invention of fishing nets, hooks and harpoons helped these early humans catch fish, such as salmon, as well as seals. Cro-Magnons also supplemented their diets with fruits, berries, nuts, seeds and roots when they could find them. However, in what is now modern-day Europe, the cold temperatures meant that Cro-Magnons inhabiting the region had to make do with basic plant material, such as grasses.