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Neanderthal dental tartar reveals medicine

Posted on Thursday, 19 July, 2012 | Comment icon 16 comments | News tip by: questionmark

Image credit: Wikipedia

Studies of Neanderthal teeth have revealed some of the earliest known evidence of self-medication.

While it was once thought that Neanderthals would have eaten almost nothing but meat, new research has revealed traces of a wide range of foods in their diets including substances with primarily medicinal benefits. Some tartar samples have revealed ingestion of yarrow ( an astringent ) and camomile, a plant useful for its anti-inflammatory properties.

"It's very surprising that the plants we were able to securely identify were those with a bitter taste and no nutritional qualities - but known medicinal properties," said Karen Hardy of the Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies in Barcelona.

"The tartar on Neanderthal teeth has a tale to tell."

  View: Full article |  Source: New Scientist

  Discuss: View comments (16)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #7 Posted by Super-Fly on 20 July, 2012, 13:29
Tidy, what does this mean for us though? Thanks,
Comment icon #8 Posted by Englishgent on 20 July, 2012, 14:58
I dont see that reading the article or not makes the slightest bit of difference. So they roasted them. Perhaps to make them taste better. It is still not evidence that they were aware of the medicinal properties. On the other hand, there should be no reason why, after thousands of years existance, that they did not discover the fact that eating a certain plant would relieve them of a headache. Anyway, what I posted initially was tongue in cheek, although there is a certain merit in what was I said. edit,,,typo
Comment icon #9 Posted by Paracelse on 20 July, 2012, 15:32
Yarrow is apply raw to wounds and cuts so if they happen in the mouth, yarrow would leaves traces whereas camomile is infused so there are big differences in the way of using it. I do practice herbal medicine for myself and I just happen to know that neither of those herbs is particularly tasty.
Comment icon #10 Posted by Englishgent on 21 July, 2012, 4:03
I bow to your superior knowledge regarding herbal medicine Paraclese, but the text does read as follows. ''However, one Neanderthal [u]consumed[/u] yarrow, a natural astringent, and camomile, an anti-inflammatory.''
Comment icon #11 Posted by Paracelse on 21 July, 2012, 5:18
If you cook yarrow it wont astringe (word made up by yours truly) and eating raw camomime it won't anti-inflamme.. so yeah Neanderthal was smarter than previoulsly thought
Comment icon #12 Posted by 27vet on 22 July, 2012, 18:07
Do they have enough Neanderthal DNA to clone one? I'm sure I read somewhere that they have quite a lot.
Comment icon #13 Posted by Paracelse on 22 July, 2012, 18:16
And then one, keep it in zoo and earn beaucoup cash??? I don't think it would be a good idea. If Neanderthal vanished, lets not play dog and bring him back.
Comment icon #14 Posted by 27vet on 23 July, 2012, 6:02
Would it qualify as an animal though? Maybe we should start on mammoths.
Comment icon #15 Posted by coolguy on 23 July, 2012, 6:14
its could be that they knew what plants to eat to make them selfs better,,
Comment icon #16 Posted by crystal sage on 16 August, 2012, 1:54
Well as we can't reverse engineer the DNA back down evolutionary ladder we could assume that the genes are only biological trait markers.. like computer programs of an avatar in a computer game? I like the idea of the Holographical Concept of Reality.. it supports the idea that tweaking the genes in a DNA, cutting and splicing won't change the original program of the DNA into another species... but I gather we can add capabilities to what we have.. eg adding spider silk traits to a goat created a goat that can produce a strong spider silk in it's milk. They are now thinking of a... [More]

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