miércoles, 15 de abril de 2015

Neanderthal chefs may have spiced up menus with wild herbs

... The idea that they were partial to a handful of herbs comes from the hardened plaque – or dental calculus – chipped off the teeth of a 50,000-year-old Neanderthal from El Sidrón in Spain. A few years ago, Karen Hardy of the University of Barcelona and colleagues found traces of camomile and yarrow in the calculus – both plants with strong flavours but no nutritional value (Naturwissenschaften, doi.org/h33). They argued that the plants were eaten for medicinal purposes. Self-medication is common in the animal world, says Hardy, and it's very likely Neanderthals did the same.

Sabrina Krief of the French natural history museum in Paris, thinks differently, based on her observations of wild chimpanzees in Kibale National Park in Uganda. After a hunt, these chimps can eat up to three different types of leaf with their prey (Antiquity, doi.org/3mk). Chimps are thought to self-medicate with leaves, but Krief says some scoff leaves to spice up their food. Her rationale is that all the chimps in a group ate them at the same time, and it's unlikely that every chimp needed the same remedy. Also, different chimp tribes opt for different leaves. [...] newscientist.com

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