Topic ID #28907 - posted 5/23/2013 1:54 AM

Infant Tooth Reveals Neandertal Breastfeeding Habits

Jennifer Palmer

 Infant Tooth Reveals Neandertal Breastfeeding Habits

An analysis of chemicals in primate teeth shows that a Neandertal infant nursed exclusively for a little more than 7 months

By Sid Perkins and Nature magazine

The changing ratios of calcium and barium in the teeth of modern humans and macaques chronicle the transition from mother’s milk to solid food — and may provide clues about the weaning habits of Neandertals, a new study suggests.

The predominant mineral in the tooth enamel of primates is hydroxyapatite, a form of calcium phosphate. But trace elements present in the bloodstream that are chemically similar to calcium, such as strontium and barium, can be incorporated into enamel as it calcifies, says Manish Arora, an environmental chemist at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York. Teeth begin forming in the gums before birth, and they record daily growth lines throughout their development, so they are good archives of diet and chemical exposure — even in infants.

Read more here.


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