Your oral health reflects your overall health, something your Evansville dentist cares very deeply about. And that was even true thousands of years ago, as researchers studying ancient teeth from an archeological dig site found out.
Archeologists found the teeth of two young Neanderthals at a site in southeastern France, abc.net reported.
Researchers say the young Neanderthals lived nearly a quarter of a million years ago.
Associate professor Tanya Smith from Griffith University Australian Research Centre for Human Evolution said an analysis of the teeth provided good evidence of what Neanderthals ate. Studies of the teeth showed that the children were weaned from their mother’s milk at two and a half years old, and showed what other foods in their environment they consumed.
Researchers also found that the teeth showed evidence of lead exposure, the earliest documented exposure to lead in the ancestors modern humans.
“Teeth remain behind long after we do, so for those of us interested in human past they’re the best evidence we have,” Smith said.
The teeth were scanned with a CT scanner, then a thin slice was cut to study. The an ion microprobe was used to take tiny samples of the teeth from the beginning of their formation until the end.
Information gathers with the probe gave researchers insight into the weather and seasons that the Neanderthals experienced — including cooler winters and more extreme seasons than more recent human fossils found at the same archaeological dig.
Researchers said this led to childhood development stresses during the Neanderthal’s winter months.
They believe the lead exposure came from natural deposits in the earth or from contaminated food or water. Lead was mined in the same area in later eras, the researchers said.