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Prehistoric feces reveal parasites from feasting at Stonehenge

Grim Reaper 6

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New analysis of ancient faeces found at the site of a prehistoric village near Stonehenge has uncovered evidence of the eggs of parasitic worms, suggesting the inhabitants feasted on the internal organs of cattle and fed leftovers to their dogs.Durrington Walls was a Neolithic settlement situated just 2.8km from Stonehenge, and dating from around 2500 BC, when much of the famous stone monument was constructed. It is believed that the site housed the people who built Stonehenge.

A thanks eam of archaeologists led by the University of Cambridge investigated nineteen pieces of ancient faeces, or 'coprolite', found at Durrington Walls and preserved for over 4,500 years. Five of the coprolites (26%) -- one human and four dog -- were found to contain the eggs of parasitic worms! Researchers say it is the earliest evidence for intestinal parasites in the UK where the host species that produced the faeces has also been identified. The findings are published today in the journal Parasitology! This is the first time intestinal parasites have been recovered from Neolithic Britain, and to find them in the environment of Stonehenge is really something," said study lead author Dr Piers Mitchell from Cambridge's Department of Archaeology. "The type of parasites we find are compatible with previous evidence for winter feasting on animals during the building of Stonehenge," he said.


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