December 28, 2010 by USA Post
New research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), challenges a prevailing theory that Neanderthals’ overconfidence in the meat has contributed to their extinction about 30,000 years ago.
The researchers found grains of many plants, including a type of wild grass, and traces of roots and tubers, trapped in the accumulation of plaque on the teeth of fossilized Neanderthal discovered in the northern Europe and Iraq.
Many of the particles “suffered physical changes that are experimentally cooked starch grains, suggesting that Neanderthals controlled fire as early modern humans,” PNAS said in a statement.
Stone artifacts have not provided evidence that Neanderthals used tools for grinding plants, suggesting that they do not practice agriculture, but new research indicates that they cooked and prepared to eat the plants, said.
The squat, low brow Neanderthals lived in parts of Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East for around 170,000 years, but all evidence of them disappears some 28,000 years, their last known refuge being Gibraltar.
Why they disappeared is a matter of debate because they have co-existed alongside modern humans.
The latest study was conducted by the Department of Anthropology at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington.
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