Researchers from Spain, the UK and Australia combined pyrolysis gas-chromatography-mass spectrometry with morphological analysis of plant microfossils to identify material trapped in dental calculus – calcified dental plaque – from five Neanderthals from the north Spanish site of El Sidrón.
Reconstruction of a Neanderthal in The Neanderthal Museum, Germany. Source Wikipedia.
Image credit Ökologi
Writing in TG Daily, Emma Woollacott reports that the examination of food particles trapped in the teeth of Neanderthal remains have –
…revealed the human ancestor Australopithecus sediba ate bark – analysis of microscopic bits of food trapped between the teeth – they’ve established that Neanderthals cooked plants, including bitter-tasting ones that have medicinal properties. Until recently, Neanderthals, who disappeared between 30,000 and 24,000 years ago, were thought to be predominantly meat-eaters.