Discovery of ancient DNA in the dental plaque of Neanderthals, have provided us with remarkable insights into their diet, behaviour and evolution history. This also includes their use of plant-based medicine to treat pain and illness. The plaque has in it, trapped microorganisms and stuck food particles. These made it easy to preserve the DNA for thousands of years.
Genetic analysis of the DNA represented a unique window into Neanderthal’s lifestyle. This revealed new details about what they ate, their health and how environment impacted their behaviour.
It was found that the Neanderthals consumed woolly rhinoceros and European wild sheep, supplemented with mushrooms. Another surprising finding was that the Neanderthal’s jawbone showed a dental abscess. This clearly depicted that he was sick. He was found to be eating poplar, which is said to contain salicylic acid.
These finding may help us in exploring our past and studying the evolution history through the medium of organisms that lived within us and around us.