Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Paleo diet reconsidered

In 2012, an international team of researchers published a study after examining the plaque on the teeth of Neanderthal skulls. They reasoned that the early humans – known for their big game hunting skills – did have a nuanced understanding of vegetables and plants, and prepared and ate them for both medicinal and nutritional reasons. A pair of British scientists has now reexamined the data and offer a slightly different theory. They suggest that the Neanderthals ate the animals they hunted and killed stomachs and all. The plant compounds that turned up on their teeth could have originated as partially-digested stomach contents. The researchers point out that the practice – which is still carried out by cultures including Australian Aborigines, who eat the stomach contents of kangaroo, and Greenland Inuit who consume the stomachs of reindeer as a delicacy - may go back to our origins. While nutrition may be a simpler explanation, this does not rule out ritual behavior by the Neanderthals. Lead author Dr. Laura Buck of the Natural History Museum in London states, “It shows a level of dietary complexity not always appreciated before.”

 

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