Neanderthal medics? Evidence for food, cooking, and medicinal plants entrapped in dental calculus

@article{Hardy2012NeanderthalME,
  title={Neanderthal medics? Evidence for food, cooking, and medicinal plants entrapped in dental calculus},
  author={Karen Hardy and Stephen Buckley and Matthew James Collins and Almudena Estalrrich and Don R. Brothwell and Les Copeland and Antonio Garc{\'i}a-Tabernero and Samuel Garc{\'i}a-Vargas and Marco de la Rasilla and Carles Lalueza-Fox and Rosa Huguet and Markus Bastir and David Santamar{\'i}a and Marco Madella and Julie Wilson and {\'A}ngel Fern{\'a}ndez Cort{\'e}s and Antonio Rosas},
  journal={Naturwissenschaften},
  year={2012},
  volume={99},
  pages={617-626}
}
Neanderthals disappeared sometime between 30,000 and 24,000 years ago. [] Key Method We present the results of a study, in which sequential thermal desorption-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (TD-GC-MS) and pyrolysis-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (Py-GC-MS) were combined with morphological analysis of plant microfossils, to identify material entrapped in dental calculus from five Neanderthal individuals from the north Spanish site of El Sidrón. Our results provide the first molecular evidence for…

Figures and Tables from this paper

Doctors, chefs or hominin animals? Non-edible plants and Neanderthals
TLDR
Two recent articles offer alternative scenarios for why and how those plants may have reached the mouth and, eventually, the dental calculus of the individual concerned, and consider their probability and feasibility as alternatives to the original proposal of self-medication.
The Neanderthal Meal: A New Perspective Using Faecal Biomarkers
TLDR
It is shown that Neanderthals, like anatomically modern humans, have a high rate of conversion of cholesterol to coprostanol related to the presence of required bacteria in their guts, and supports the opportunity for further research into cholesterol metabolism throughout human evolution.
Dental Calculus Reveals Unique Insights into Food Items, Cooking and Plant Processing in Prehistoric Central Sudan
TLDR
It is demonstrated the ingestion in both pre-agricultural and agricultural periods of Cyperus rotundus tubers and its ability to inhibit Streptococcus mutans may have contributed to the unexpectedly low level of caries found in the agricultural population.
Investigating Plant Micro-Remains Embedded in Dental Calculus of the Phoenician Inhabitants of Motya (Sicily, Italy)
TLDR
The research outlines dietary ecology and phytomedicinal practices of the ancient community of Motya, one of the most important Phoenician settlements in the Mediterranean basin, and discloses the strong human-plant interaction in Motya’s Phoenicians community, in terms of cultural traditions and land use.
Environmental implications and evidence of natural products from dental calculi of a Neolithic–Chalcolithic community (central Italy)
TLDR
The detection of secondary metabolites in the ancient matrix confirmed the familiarity of this community with plant resources and the stability of the tartar microenvironment had preserved starches and other microparticles, rarely detected in ancient dental calculus.
Neanderthal self-medication in context
TLDR
It is proposed that compounds from two non-nutritional plants, yarrow and camomile, in a sample of Neanderthal dental calculus from the northern Spanish site of El Sidrón were selected and ingested deliberately for the purpose of self-medication.
The Diet of Three Medieval Individuals from Caravate (Varese, Italy). Combined Results of ICP‐MS Analysis of Trace Elements and Phytolith Analysis Conducted on Their Dental Calculus
Teeth are in close contact with foodstuffs: phenomena such as caries and wear of the crowns are precious keys to gather information on diet and cooking techniques. Phytoliths are granules of
Earliest evidence for caries and exploitation of starchy plant foods in Pleistocene hunter-gatherers from Morocco
TLDR
Analysis of oral pathology reveals an exceptionally high prevalence of caries, comparable to modern industrialized populations with a diet high in refined sugars and processed cereals, infer that increased reliance on wild plants rich in fermentable carbohydrates and changes in food processing caused an early shift toward a disease-associated oral microbiota in this population.
...
1
2
3
4
5
...

References

SHOWING 1-10 OF 78 REFERENCES
Microfossils in calculus demonstrate consumption of plants and cooked foods in Neanderthal diets (Shanidar III, Iraq; Spy I and II, Belgium)
TLDR
Direct evidence is reported for Neanderthal consumption of a variety of plant foods, in the form of phytoliths and starch grains recovered from dental calculus of Neanderthal skeletons from Shanidar Cave, Iraq, and Spy Cave, Belgium, suggesting an overall sophistication in Neanderthal dietary regimes.
Ethnomedicinal and bioactive properties of plants ingested by wild chimpanzees in Uganda.
Ancient starch: Cooked or just old?
TLDR
The authors do consider that chewing may have altered the morphology of some granules but do not consider a more prosaic explanation—namely that granules were not cooked, but merely old, a general truth that the older a sample is, the more degraded it is.
Animal self-medication and ethno-medicine: exploration and exploitation of the medicinal properties of plants
  • M. Huffman
  • Biology
    Proceedings of the Nutrition Society
  • 2003
TLDR
In light of the growing resistance of parasites and pathogens to synthetic drugs, the study of animal self-medication and ethno-medicine offers a novel line of investigation to provide ecologically-sound methods for the treatment of parasites using plant-based medicines in populations and their livestock living in the tropics.
MEDICINAL PROPERTIES IN THE DIET OF GORILLAS: AN ETHNO-PHARMACOLOGICAL EVALUATION
TLDR
The ethnopharmacological literature is reviewed to evaluate the possible role of plant secondary compounds in the diet of gorillas in the wild and how these plants can be used for health maintenance.
Starch grains on human teeth reveal early broad crop diet in northern Peru
TLDR
An examination of starch grains preserved in the calculus of human teeth from these sites provides direct evidence for the early consumption of cultivated squash and peanuts along with two other major food plants not previously detected.
The exploitation of plant resources by Neanderthals in Amud Cave (Israel): The evidence from phytolith studies
The depositional environments of Amud Cave indicate that phytolith assemblages retrieved from the cave's sediments are an integral part of the Middle Palaeolithic sequence. As such, they provide
Preservation of Fossil Seeds From a 10th Century AD Cess Pit at Coppergate, York
Abstract Fossilization processes were investigated in terrestrial archaeological deposits, focusing on the preservation of sub-fossil seeds from a 10th century cess pit at Coppergate in York. Flash
...
1
2
3
4
5
...