Ancient Tartar Reveals that Early Humans Suffered the Effects of Smoking

modern dental techniques

modern dental techniquesFossils may be nothing more than mineralised bones, but they can tell us so much about how the creatures during the dawn of history lived and died. One of the most fascinating questions that these fossils can answer is the mystery of how early man lived in the time before, well, everything.

Excavated teeth reveal a wealth of information regarding early man’s diet and lifestyle. But recent data suggests that they also had to struggle with something most people think only began occurring in recent centuries – smoking.

No, early humans did not puff on cigarettes; their teeth, however, reveal that they suffered lung irritation that could only come about through inhaling aerial contaminants. Researchers were able to isolate microscopic examples of lung irritants trapped in the hardened tartar of early human teeth.

Commonly, dentists – especially the ones at Weybridge – advise people to clean their teeth every day and consult with them at least twice a year to avoid tartar build up. But, in this case, scientists are thankful that modern dental techniques and hygiene did not exist during the dawn of humankind.

The lung irritants that they found in the tartar most likely came from standing too close to cooking fires, and the owners of the dental samples began inhaling smoke. Not only does this evidence prove that early humans were cooking meat during that period, but it also adds another piece to the puzzle of early human life.

Aerial pollution from inhaling smoke is dangerous to any organism, which meant that it could have played a role in the death of the owners of the sample. In addition, it raises the fact that early humans were not as healthy as previously thought.

Researchers are describing it as the first recorded case of man-made pollution. This just goes to show that even the simplest steps of progress have their consequences, and humans will always need to balance the pros and cons of the things they do.