A new analysis of Neanderthal teeth has found that Neanderthals self-medicated with painkillers and proto-penicillin, tens of thousands of years before modern humans got the idea.
Publishing their results in the scientific journal Nature, researchers examined the dental calculus, or built-up plaque, found on the teeth of Neanderthals.
One of the Neanderthals that the researchers studied was a teenager with a large dental abscess and a gut parasite that gave him constant diarrhea, the New Scientist reports.
“It’s likely he wasn’t a very happy individual,” Laura Weyrich, lead researcher on the study, told the New Scientist.
Moreover, the teenager’s teeth had traces of plants that have anti-inflammatory characteristics, as well as traces of the poplar plant, which has salicylic acid, a painkiller, in its leaves. There was also a large quantity of Penicillium fungus, which is used to make antibiotics, in his mouth as well.
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