Neanderthals, who lived in the North of Spain, had primitive medical knowledge
Secrets of the past: the Neanderthals, who lived in the cave of El Sidron in the North of Spain, had primitive medical knowledge and knew about the healing properties of chamomile and yarrow, and that have traces of plant sugars in a petrified plaque on their teeth, say paleontologists in the article.
«Traces of the plants that we were able to detect showed that the Neanderthals from the cave of El Sidron well versed in the nature surrounding them. They were able to find and use certain plants not only for food but also for self healing. And although the meat was extremely important for their survival, our study showed that the diet of Neanderthals was much more complicated than we previously thought,» — said the head group of scientists Karen hardy (Karen Hardy) from the Autonomous University of Barcelona (Spain).
Hardy and her colleagues determined the diet of the Neanderthals and found out about their healing abilities, having studied the chemical composition of fossilized teeth of Neanderthals from the cave of El Sidron.
The cave of El Sidron attracted the attention of archaeologists, paleontologists and the society in 1994 when it was discovered the remains of 13 Neanderthals, including jaw bones and teeth protology. According to various estimates, the owners of the bones had lived in this cave approximately 47-50 thousand years ago.
The authors separated the fragments of the stone plaque with the ten teeth found in the cave, and analyzed their composition using a gas chromatograph.
To the surprise of scientists, the teeth of Neanderthals contained traces of plant foods, including starch, carbohydrates and other substances of non-animal origin. According to paleontologists, damage in the structure of the molecules of starch and certain other sugar compounds indicate that they have survived heat treatment. This suggests that Neanderthals cooked plant food on fire before eating.
In addition, the enamel of the teeth Neanderthals had another surprise. Researchers found molecules with a bitter or just unpleasant taste often found in many medicinal plants.
«The contents of the teeth indicated that one of the Neanderthals regularly ate bitter herbs such as yarrow and camomile with extremely low nutritional value. We know that Neanderthals were able to differentiate the bitter taste, so they had to eat these plants not for their taste,» explained another team member Stephen Buckley (Stephen Buckley) from the University of York (UK).
As you know, chamomile and yarrow have medicinal properties and are often used in folk medicine. Apparently, the Neanderthals knew this, and used the plant in the form of decoctions or in another form.
In his following the work of hardy and her colleagues plan to study the species composition of bacteria inhabiting the oral cavity of ancient humans. According to them, the Tartar preserved not only traces of vegetation, but also fossilized fragments of bacteria, which has yet to perform on the materials .