Forget crisps and sweets – Stone Age hunter-gatherers found to suffer earliest tooth decay after snacking on pine nuts and acorns
Scientists say they have found the first evidence of rotting teeth to pre-date the invention of farming
Dentists are always telling us to avoid sweet, sticky foods for the sake of our teeth – and it had been believed that this was a problem unique to modern humans.
Yet scientists have now discovered the very first evidence of teeth which had been rotted away by an unhealthy diet in the Stone Age, long before humans started turning farmed crops into sugary snacks.
A team of researchers from the Natural History Museum analysed the skeletal remains of 52 adults who were buried together in Moroccan cave between 15,000 and 13,700 years ago.
As well as finding unprecedented levels of bad oral hygiene, they discovered evidence that the group had cooked nuts foraged from nearby – making the treats sweet and, crucially, sticky.
“This is the first time we've seen such bad oral health in a pre-agricultural population,” said Isabelle De Groote, who co-authored the report.
Her team found evidence of decay in more than half of the surviving teeth – levels similar to those found in modern-day societies.
Until now the earliest remains shown to have such cavities were from early agricultural populations, which were the first to process wheat and barley into high-sugar foods like porridge and bread.
“This evidence predates the first signs of food production by several thousand years,” reads the study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Scientists found the remains of pine nuts and sweet North African acorns alongside the hunter-gatherers, as well as the remnants of grindstones which could have been used in cooking preparation.
The University of Leicester’s Marijke van der Veen told New Scientist: “A heavy reliance on certain plant foods well before people started to rely on cultivated plants could, in certain circumstances, lead to significant [tooth decay] levels.”
Greenpeace comes to the aid of Britain's small fishing vessels
Backbench rebellion threat sees fracking regulations toughened
Frilled shark: Australian fishermen capture terrifying shark from the deep
Keep off the grass: Research confirms that highly manicured lawns produce more greenhouse gases than they soak up
The ugliest animals on earth: Blobfish, axolotl and proboscis monkey battle it out to be named least attractive beast
- 1 The BBC has just done more to eradicate ‘terrorism’ than all our wars since 9/11
- 2 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 3 Mystery man who gave mum heart-warming note on train 'wanted to put a smile on her face'
- 4 Michelle Obama highlights harsh restrictions faced by Saudi women after meeting King Salman without wearing a headscarf
- 5 Grumpy Roald Dahl letter warning student to 'eschew beastly adjectives' rediscovered after 35 years
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
£120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...
£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...
£24000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wim...
£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Front End Web Developer is re...