The Neanderthals may have lost homo sapiens In the evolutionary battle for survival, but over time, we are learning more and more similarities between species – and according to new research, this extends to parenting children.
A new study that used geochemical and histological techniques to look at three Neanderthal’s baby teeth found that these babies started eating solid foods at around 5 or 6 months of age .. like real modern human.
Teeth have growth lines that resemble rings in the trunk, marking changes in growth and diet that scientists can identify. It helps clear up some of the mysteries surrounding how Neanderthal children are born and raised.
Anthropologist Alessia Nava from the University of Kent in the UK said: “We now know that Neanderthals also started weaning their children when modern humans do so.”
“Starting solids is more about physiology than cultural factors. In fact, in modern humans, weaning first occurs around six months of age when the baby needs a resource. Food provides more energy, and it is shared by so many different cultures and societies. “
The original teeth were restored from northeastern Italy and are between 45,000 and 70,000 years old. Paper-thin slices are cut, analyzed, and then reconstructed.
Research includes analysis of strontium in tooth enamel. Comparing the chemical composition to the teeth of rodents and contemporaries suggests that the Neanderthals were probably closer to home than was thought.
To humans, it seems that the developing brain and its need for more fuel are fueling the Neanderthals’ weaning process. If that’s true, it means that experts can infer more details about our evolutionary cousins.
“The results of this work imply similar energy needs during infancy and near growth rates homo sapiens and the Neanderthals, “said anthropologist Stefano Benazzi, from the University of Bologna in Italy.
“Taken together, these factors may suggest that Neanderthal infants weigh the same as modern human infants, suggest a pregnancy history and early blurred vision have similar abilities, and the interval between births is likely to be shorter. “
One of the hypothesized for the eventual demise of the Neanderthals was that long lactation reduced fertility, ultimately allowing homo sapiens outnumber them. That idea is not supported by this new study, researchers say.
Exactly why modern humans survived and Neanderthals do not continue to intrigue scientists, and there are still a lot of questions about how these ancient humans lived and died – some of these new studies have can help answer.
Baby teeth begin to form in the womb, and thus, tooth analysis can also tell us something about a mother’s diet and life, the study authors said. as well as children – but that will have to be a topic for future research.
Research has been published in PNAS.