Reflections on a recent study of Neanderthal children’s teeth and one other (5000 ya):
Teeth are a really useful indicator of past environments.
This is possible because teeth have biological rhythms, and key events get locked inside them. These faithful internal clocks run night and day, year after year, and include daily growth lines and a marked line formed at birth.
Previously, my colleagues and I discovered that an 8-year-old Belgian Neanderthal was weaned at 1.2 years of age. This probably was atypical, as the nursing signal dropped off rapidly and the individual showed stress in its first molar at this exact time.
We’re not sure if this means that it was separated from its mother or just really sick—but it’s likely that Neanderthal kids nursed for longer when they could.
Our new approach allows scientists to flesh out the lives of ancient children with unprecedented detail, including fine-scaled views of life in Ice Age Europe, through the remarkable tales their teeth tell.The Conversation Tanya M. Smith, “Secrets Hidden in Ancient Teeth” at Sapiens
Teeth and soft tissue seem to be turning ideology into history, especially where our ancestors are concerned. Notice that the speculation is much more focused on everyday reality and much less on “the evolution of sexual jealousy” or some similar malarkey. And all the better for that!
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See also: Researchers: Soft tissue shows Jurassic ichthyosaur was warm-blooded, had blubber Soft tissue analysis seems to have brought oddities to life. Although considered a reptile, the ichthyosaur had features that remind one of a mammal.
Was Neanderthal man fully human? The role racism played in assessing the evidence