Science and Tech


Tooth Plaque Provides Insight Into Diets Of Ancient People

Research on plaque from ancient teeth shows that our prehistoric ancestor's had a detailed understanding of plants long before developing agriculture.
Posted at 7:37 PM, Jul 19, 2014

Researchers are saying our prehistoric ancestors might have had a much better understanding of plants prior to developing agriculture than previously thought.

Extracting chemical compounds from calcified dental plaque on ancient teeth showed that an important part of our predecessors' diets was purple nutsedge because of it's nutritional and medicinal value. (Via Donatella Usai, Centro Studi Sudanesi and Sub-Sahariani (CSSeS);CC-BDYY)

The teeth were taken from a grave site in Central Sudan that contained specimens from before and after the development of agriculture. They all showed that people relied heavily on purple nutsedge. (Via PLOS ONE)

However, today the plant is known as a nuisance weed and it's been called the most costly weed to get rid of because of it's deep root system. (Via JeevanJose / CC By SA 4.0)

Our prehistoric ancestor's, on the other hand, loved the stuff. Its a good source of carbohydrates and it also helps prevent tooth decay, which led to the surprisingly low level of cavities in the specimens studied. (Via Science Daily)

Researchers also discovered those early humans ate several other plants and there is evidence suggesting they cooked and chewed plant fibers to prepare raw materials. (ViaAlphaGalileo)

All of this has shown that long before developing agricultural, people had detailed knowledge of plants and those plants played a big part in their everyday lives. The research is published in the journal PLOS ONE.