Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?

Ancient Teeth Bacteria Record Disease Evolution 97

An anonymous reader writes "DNA preserved in calcified bacteria on the teeth of ancient human skeletons has shed light on the health consequences of the evolving diet and behavior from the Stone Age to the modern day. The ancient genetic record reveals the negative changes in oral bacteria brought about by the dietary shifts as humans became farmers, and later with the introduction of food manufacturing in the Industrial Revolution."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Ancient Teeth Bacteria Record Disease Evolution

Comments Filter:
  • Re:humans (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 18, 2013 @03:33AM (#42933235)
    We eat sugar and complex carbs more than most animals and these tend to cause tooth decay. When you're a wolf who only eats protein it isn't a problem.
  • Re:humans (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 18, 2013 @03:37AM (#42933245)

    It would be interesting to study dental health across humans with various diets i.e. vegetarians, vegans, etc.

  • Re:humans (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sFurbo ( 1361249 ) on Monday February 18, 2013 @04:31AM (#42933417)
    What sibling post said about sugar, plus we stopped eating really coarse food. Eating hard roots will scrub bacterial plaque off your teeth. When we stopped eating as many raw, hard roots, we had to substitute that function with brushing, but it seems to be less efficient. Additionally, our jaws are far too short for the number for teeth we have, thus the problems of wisdom teeth, which also pushes the other teeth together, making the room between them harder to clean.
  • Re:humans (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Runaway1956 ( 1322357 ) on Monday February 18, 2013 @04:50AM (#42933463) Homepage Journal

    Plants and animals generally have a lifespan long enough to procreate - then they are a waste.

    Human animals are pretty well designed to live to age 30 or 40, maybe 50, then they are a waste. Teeth, bones, whatever, are just not designed to last a whole lot longer. Women show this even more than men. They spend the first ten to fifteen years growing into sexual maturity, they spend the next twenty years or so reproducing, then they face the onset of osteoporosis and a multitude of hormonal problems. Nature simply didn't design us to live forever.

    Specifically, on topic, not only do we live longer today, but we don't eat the way nature intended. We put sugar in everything, for starters. Corn syrup, mushy processed foods, foods without their natural enzymes, foods with little if any fiber, foods bleached of their primary nutritional content, foods with artificial junk in them, foods filled with useless and possibly detrimental colorings - the list goes on.

    Want to beat the problems we have with our teeth? Get closer to nature. Eat your meats fresh and rare. Eat your veggies raw. Don't eat processed foods. Don't eat sugars and corn syrups. DON'T SLURP ON SWEETENED AND FLAVORED DRINKS ALL DAY LONG!! Those damned drinks are probably the single leading cause of dental problems. Drink your 6 to 12 cups of water throughout the day, and MAYBE have a single flavored drink with your meals, whether that be coffee, a soda, or whatever.

    In short, we've outsmarted Mother Nature, we outlive our intended lifetimes, and we fail to care for our teeth properly. It's a wonder that we are keeping our teeth for as long as we do!

    And, no, I really don't think that we are going to "evolve" better teeth. We will only keep what we have, for so long as we keep outsmarting Mother Nature. If we lose our edge with technology and modern medicine, then we are going to lose our current life spans, and we'll lose our teeth even sooner.

    Now - do you want to compare oral problems with other animals? Read the story of the man eating lions, in the story of 'The Spirit and The Ghost'. As I recall, the elder lion had a broken canine, which was extremely painful. Because it hurt so damned bad to bite through the tough hides of almost any animal, he resorted to killing soft skinned people. Apparently, people aren't the tastiest game available to lions, but they are among the easiest to kill. One quick chomp on a leg, and they are down, ready to be killed and consumed at leisure. An entire region was terrorized for months because of a lion's dental problems. The younger lion? I think he just followed the elder lion's lead, or something like that. Maybe he was just lazy.

    Animals have dental problems, but we generally don't hear them complaining about their teeth.

  • Re:humans (Score:4, Insightful)

    by somersault ( 912633 ) on Monday February 18, 2013 @12:27PM (#42936115) Homepage Journal

    I should point out that transfats (in some types of processed food) and hydrogenated fats (margarine) have been scientifically proven to be bad for you. But saturated fat hasn't.

    Transfats do exist in nature, but we mostly get them from processed foods. From the wikipedia article: "They can only be made by cooking with a very high heat, at temperatures impossible in a household kitchen." So frying isn't bad for you either.

God help those who do not help themselves. -- Wilson Mizner