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Ancient humans used medicinal plants


Including Neanderthals:

In a 2019 Evolutionary Anthropology paper, archaeologist Karen Hardy analyzed plant species recovered from seven archaeological sites in the Near East, dating between about 8,000 and 790,000 years ago. During this span the region was occupied by Homo sapiens, Neanderthals and earlier forms of human ancestors. Of the 212 plant species identified, around 60 percent were medicinal and edible; they could have been used for food, medicine or both. Another 15 percent were non-edible, but may also have had curative properties in small doses.

In earlier work Hardy and colleagues studied molecules trapped in the fossilized dental plaque of ~50,000-year-old Neanderthals from the site of El Sidrón, Spain. In one female specimen with a tooth abscess, the team identified compounds that likely came from from yarrow and chamomile, bitter plants with little nutritional value, but known for their medicinal properties.Bridget Alex, “Prehistoric Medicine: How Archaic Humans Cured Themselves” at Discover Magazine

The big problem back then was no one knew enough about the big picture to understand why the details worked the way they did.

See also: “Jumping genes” threaten the world’s antibiotics Does anyone remember when antibiotic resistance was proof of Darwinism? Antibiotic resistance was Evolution. And Evolution was not non-Darwinian stuff like horizontal gene transfer/jumping genes. Welcome to post-Darwin science.


A deep and abiding need for Neanderthals to be stupid. Why?

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There is a report in Nature about orang-utans using medicinal herbs, and I think Dianne Fossey noticed something of the same. Belfast
I don't think the use of plants for medicinal purposes is surprising. Even my cat, when he is not feeling well (lethargic), will eat grass, causing him to vomit. When he is active, he does not do so. I think that it would be a stretch to say that he is picking out the specific grass (and not other plants) with intent knowing that it will make him feel better. I would be interested to know if there is any research on animals using plants for their medicinal benefits. Brother Brian

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