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Neanderthal teeth tell tales of diet and medicine


Neanderthal teeth tell tales of diet and medicine
Ars Technica

It's part of a study of Neanderthal diet, courtesy of their poor dental hygiene. Published in Nature, an analysis of preserved dental plaque from three different Neanderthals provides an intriguing glimpse into what they put in their mouths. According to the authors, the analysis points to regionally varied diets and suggests possible medicinal plant use.But some of the DNA evidence is a little strange, suggesting evidence of species where they really shouldn’t have been 50,000 years ago. There are some good explanations for why this could happen, but, like most exciting results, drawing conclusions from the evidence demands a little caution.Foraging NeanderthalsThe stereotypical picture of Neanderthals paints them as hunting the woolly mammoth. There’s evidence to back up a Neanderthal diet “as carnivorous as polar bears or wolves,” write the researchers: archaeological and chemical data suggest meals heavy in large herbivores like reindeer, woolly mammoth, and woolly rhinoceros.

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