Neanderthals and Homo sapiens have been eating sugars for a long time

Researchers have analyzed the bacterial flora on teeth thousands of years old.

Teeth are little time machines. More precisely, we can speak of black boxes which, thousands of years after the death of their owner, retain essential information to understand their daily life. Thus, in our mouths a bacterial flora evolves which, trapped in tartar, reveals to us the diets of our ancestors. A team from the Max Planck Institute in Jena (Germany) thus analyzed the tartar of nearly 130 teeth belonging to great apes as well as several Homo sapiens and Neanderthals over a period of 100,000 years ago to the present era (PNAS, May 18, 2021).

First surprise: “There is very little difference between the bacterial flora of modern humans and that of Neanderthals, which suggests a certain evolutionary stability of these bacteria”, comments Clément Zanolli, CNRS paleoanthropologist at the University of Bordeaux. Both groups have bacteria associated with starch consumption, which are

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