Sunday, July 22, 2012

Neanderthals Self-Medicated?

Tartar remains on teeth reveal traces of herbs, veggies, study says.

 Neanderthals may have been gatherers and hunters (file picture of a model of a Neanderthal woman).

A cave in northern Spain that previously yielded evidence of Neanderthals as brain-eating cannibals now suggests the prehistoric humans ate their greens and used herbal remedies.

A new study of skeletal remains from El Sidrón cave site in Asturias (map) detected chemical and food traces on the teeth of five Neanderthals. (Take a Neanderthal quiz in National Geographic magazine.)

Tartar samples from the 50,000-year-old teeth revealed microscopic plant starch granules, which had cracks indicating the plants had been roasted first. Further chemical analysis revealed compounds associated with wood smoke.

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