Scientists have analyzed the dental structure of Neanderthals that lived between 42,000 to 50,000 years ago in modern-day Belgium and Spain and discovered new interesting facts. The new discoveries were published in the journal Nature and now the subject of paleontologists and archaeologists. The discoveries cover the foods that Neanderthals may have eaten thousands of years ago and the medicines they must have used to treat various ailments.
Neanderthals were believed to have lived in ancient Europe and southwestern to central Asia, and they continue to be the subject of various studies based on new scientific discoveries. In fact, research shows that modern humans bear some of their genes today, meaning that Neanderthals may have interbred with modern humans - our ancestors. Scientists often study the skulls, bone structure, dental formation and DNA of Neanderthals to arrive at conclusions about how they lived among themselves and with their environments.
New Neanderthal discoveries offer a window into the past
Authored by researchers from the University of Liverpool and the University of Adelaide in Australia, the scientists found that Neanderthals used painkillers and antibiotics such as we have today. Long before the discovery of penicillin by modern man, the researchers analyzed one particular Neanderthal remains and found the guy accessed aspirin by chewing the bark of the poplar tree. The scientists concluded that this particular Neanderthal may have chewed on tree barks containing aspirin and penicillin because he had dental abscess or gastrointestinal parasite, the BBC wrote.
This raised a question on whether Neanderthals self-medicated. A study of the DNA within the dental tartar of the Neanderthals showed he suffered from intestinal parasite, and an evidence on his jawbone showed he actually had dental abscess. This development reveals that Neanderthals had an extinctive knowledge of medicinal plants and antibiotics than we give them credit for.
Neanderthals ate vegetables and also engaged in passionate kissing
Modern man should not think that they developed the erotic idea of kissing. A mapping of the bacteria found in the mouths of extinct Neanderthals shows they engaged in kissing. According to Laura Weyrich, a paleomicrobiologist with the University of Adelaide, a sequencing of the oldest microbial genome in the mouth of the Neanderthals shows they had been kissing. "In order to get microorganisms swapped between people, you have to be kissing," she said.
Meanwhile, being a Neanderthal was not all about eating meat as earlier believed; an analysis of the dental structure of Neanderthals and the microbes trapped in their teeth showed they also eat fruits and vegetables. The ancient folks may have consumed a variety of meat, but they also supplemented this with a rich diet of mushrooms, pine nuts, tree barks, moss, fruits and veggies among others. Many of the microbes found in extinct Neanderthals still remain in humans till today, meaning they actually interacted sexually with our own ancestors.