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Baby Neanderthal breastfed for seven months


Analysis of the elements found in a Neanderthal baby’s tooth has revealed that the infant was breastfed for seven months.

The precision of this estimate is courtesy a new technique that uses elements in teeth to determine when breast-feeding started and stopped. Though researchers can’t be sure the young Neanderthal’s pattern was typical of its kind, such a breast-feeding pattern is not unlike that seen in many modern humans.

“Breast-feeding is such a major event in childhood, and it’s important for so many reasons,” study researcher Manish Arora, a research associate at Harvard’s School of Public Health, told LiveScience. “It’s a major determinate of child health and immune protection, so breast-feeding is important both from the point of view of studying our evolution as well as studying health in modern humans.”

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Story: Stephanie Pappas, LiveScience | Photo: Ian Harrowell, Christine Austin and Manish Arora

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