Apr 25, 2017 | Updated: 03:00 PM EDT

Dental Analysis Of Fossil Says: Neanderthal People Used To Eat Wooly Rhinos And Take Prehistoric Aspirin

Mar 09, 2017 10:12 AM EST

Neanderthal teeth reveal truth of the 'paleo diet'
(Photo : Tech Insider) In a recent paper published in Nature, researchers describe how Neanderthals in Europe ate — revealing what the original version of the "paleo diet" was actually like. Turns out, the paleo diet highly depended on where Neanderthals lives. Some ate mostly meat while others were vegetarian.

In the last few years, genome analysis of Neanderthal fossil providing a large amount of information about their lifestyles. In a recent study by the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), researchers found the information about the diet of the Neanderthals. Researchers also found how they used to deal with the tooth problems as they didn’t have the toothpaste like modern age.

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The fossil of ancient Neanderthal has been found from the dig sites across the Europe. Researchers extracted the DNA samples and bacteria from the Jaws of three Neanderthal individuals from Belgium and the El Sidrón site in Asturias, northern Spain. DNA analysis indicates that wooly rhinoceros and wild sheep were the main diets of Belgian individuals while, Spanish Neanderthals were mainly dependent on vegetables including moss, pine nuts, and mushrooms. The description of their study was first published in the journal of Nature.

The team also recovered DNA of Bacteria communities and fungi living in their bodies and the calcified plaques. Microbiologist From University of Adelaide and study leader, Laura Weyrich said in a statement,“It gives us a picture of a wide variety of things they were exposed to in their daily lives, including diseases and the medicines they were using to treat them”.

According to National Geographic, Bacterial strains indicate that the Spanish Neanderthal used to suffer from a dental abscess, caused by Methanobrevibacter oral Bacteria. Researchers discovered the sign of salicylic acid which they used as an aspirin or pain killer. Those people also dealt with the problem of diarrhea and vomiting caused by Enterocytozoon bieneusi. Evidence of Penicillium rubens found inside the teeth which obtained from the jammed plant matter of teeth.

Co-author of the study Keith Dobney from the University of Aberdeen explained that Neanderthals ate both meat and vegetables and self-medicate with plants. Researchers examined the Nitrogen isotopes from the tooth enamel and physical plant remains from their teeth to back the result up.

Meat-eaters and veg-eaters have different microbiomes and both of them were different from modern humans. This thing truly indicates that microbiomes have also evolved over millions of years.

The genome of gum disease that Weyrich’s group sequenced was about 48,000 years old, oldest bacterial genome ever sequenced. The Neanderthal strain was actually originated about 125,000 years ago. At that time modern humans(Homo Sapiens) and Neanderthals were thought to have interbred. Researchers found the modern form of Bacteria was transmitted through the Saliva. That is where the question arises how humans and Neanderthals may have interacted during such intimate moments. Weyrich explained that those microorganisms were transferred through kissing or food-sharing.


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