Cavemen May Have Used Toothpicks, Says Study

Posted: Dec 29 2016, 9:12am CST | by , Updated: Dec 29 2016, 9:19am CST, in News | Latest Science News

 

Cavemen may have Used Toothpicks, Says Study
Microfossils extracted from dental calculus show remnants of food and a fragement of a toothpick. Credit: University of York
 

Dental analysis of 1.2-million-year-old tooth also yields new information about what ancient hominins used to eat

It’s hard to imagine that prehistoric humans were really interested in dental hygiene. But researchers have found evidence that ancient human relatives tend to take annoying bits of food out of their teeth from time to time and they may have done so with the help of ancient wooden toothpicks.

While excavating a site in Northern Spain, researchers have discovered a 1.2 year old human tooth with wood fibers trapped inside it. Their precise location suggests that bits of wood likely came from toothpick or any wood tool used for tooth picking. Researchers also found fossilized plaque on almost all the teeth in the jawbone, which further revealed a good deal about the specific dietary of those ancient humans.

The intact starch and fibers found on the teeth show that ancient human used to eat a balanced food, containing meat and starchy carbohydrates from plants and possibly from grass seeds. Also, they did not know how to cook food on fire. Their damaged teeth had signs of heavy use, suggesting they preferred to chew raw food.

“Our evidence for the consumption of at least two different starchy plants, in addition to the direct evidence for consumption of meat and of plant-based raw materials suggests that this very early European hominin population had a detailed understanding of its surroundings and a broad diet.” Study researcher Karen Hardy from the Universtat Autonoma de Barcelona in Spain said in a statement.

This is not the first time when researchers have discovered the evidence of tooth picking in ancient humans. In April, researchers have found bits of bark inside the groove at Neanderthal teeth discovered in El Sidrón cave in Spain. Those remains dated back to 49000 years and are the oldest known example of this type of dental cleaning. Another evidence of tooth-picking was also found on fossils on Peking Man, who was estimated to be between 580,000 and 280,000 years old

The findings of the study were published in journal The Science of Nature.

 

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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