The dental plaque provides a lifelong record of what went in the Neanderthals’ mouths.
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Eating like a caveman meant chowing down on woolly rhinos and sheep in Belgium, but munching on mushrooms, pine nuts and moss in Spain.Scientists got a sneak peek into the kitchen of three Neanderthals by scraping off the plaque stuck on their teeth and examining the DNA. What they found smashes a common public misconception that the caveman diet was mostly meat. While past studies showed varied Neanderthal diets, genetic testing allowed researchers to say what kind of meat or mushrooms they ate, Cooper said. The 42,000-year-old Belgian Neanderthal's menu of sheep and woolly rhino reflected what roamed in the plains around the Neanderthal's home. There were no signs of meat in the diet of the two 50,000-year-old Spanish Neanderthals, but calling them vegetarians would be a stretch, Cooper said.
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