Scientists examined tartar from 1.2-million-year-old teeth, one of the oldest hominin remains discovered in Europe. Food remains from tartar revealed the palaeodiet of the individual.
The jawbone was found in 2007 at the Sima Del Elefante excavation site in Spain’s Atapeurca Mountains and is believed to be between 1.1 and 1.2 million years old. Within the tartar archaeologists were able to extract various fibres including plants, animal tissues, a scale from a butterfly’s wing and a fragment of an insect leg. Archaeologists also found fibres from non-edible wood. Starch granules were found, suggesting early hominins may have eaten grass seeds. Because the granules were largely intact and uncharred, it’s believed food was consumed uncooked. Also the teeth showed signs of heavy use from gripping and chewing raw materials. The wood is believed to have been from regular tooth picking, an early form of dental hygiene. According to the researchers, detailed understanding of its surroundings and a broad diet of the hominin can be attested by the registered presence of at least two different starchy plants and the direct evidence for consumption of meat and plant-based raw materials.
(after CBC News & CENIH)