March 9, 2017
Published today in the journal Nature, an international team led by the University of Adelaide’s Australian Centre for Ancient DNA (ACAD) and Dental School, with the University of Liverpool in the UK, revealed the complexity of Neandertal behaviour, including dietary differences between Neandertal groups and knowledge of medication.
“Dental plaque traps microorganisms that lived in the mouth and pathogens found in the respiratory and gastrointestinal tract, as well as bits of food stuck in the teeth — preserving the DNA for thousands of years,” says lead author Dr Laura Weyrich, ARC Discovery Early Career Research Fellow with ACAD.
“Genetic analysis of that DNA ‘locked-up’ in plaque, represents a unique window into Neandertal lifestyle — revealing new details of what they ate, what their health was like and how the environment impacted their behaviour.”
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