Apparently, the golden age in the distant past of good health due to clean, fresh outdoor living was a myth after all:
Anthropologist Erik Trinkaus from Washington University in St Louis, US, compiled examination records for two Late Pleistocene infants, six children, four juveniles, six adolescents, 30 prime age adults, and eight older adults, from several archaeological sites around the world.
He discovered that all up they showed evidence of 75 skeletal or dental abnormalities. Based on rates of similar disorders in modern human populations, Trinkaus finds the probability that the total is merely an artefact of comparatively small sample size to be “vanishingly small”.Andrew Masterson, “Huge numbers of deformities found in ancient human remains” at Cosmos
Trinkaus stresses that the surprise isn’t the evidence of deformities but the sheer number, plus the fact that many deformities are rare and one fifth “defy proper diagnosis.”
Maybe the sufferers left few descendants. Many of the disorders are rare today. But the problems may not have been heritable anyway; rather, life was tough in those times and far more people had big health problems. The “fittest,” in a Darwinian sense, may not even have been very fit.
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