Dental plaque shows what Neanderthals took as drugs

Ancient DNA found in dental plaque gives us an interesting glimpse into how Neanderthals self-medicated and interacted with humans.

Dental plaque is a biofilm, a mass of bacteria that grows on surfaces within the mouth. It’s commonly formed on and around the teeth. While in the modern world we have ways to deal with plaque, that wasn’t an option for the Neanderthals.

“Dental plaque traps microorganisms that lived in the mouth and pathogens found in the respiratory and gastrointestinal tract, as well as bits of food stuck in the teeth — preserving the DNA for thousands of years,” says lead author Dr Laura Weyrich, ARC Discovery Early Career Research Fellow with ACAD.

Source: Dental plaque shows what Neanderthals took as drugs

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