First human ancestors breastfed for longer than contemporary relatives

First human ancestors breastfed for longer than contemporary relatives

by University of Bristol, Phys.org

By analyzing the fossilized teeth of some of our most ancient ancestors, a team of scientists led by the universities of Bristol (UK) and Lyon (France) have discovered that the first humans significantly breastfed their infants for longer periods than their contemporary relatives.

The results, published in the journal Science Advances, provide a first insight into the practice of weaning that remain otherwise unseen in the fossil record.

The team sampled minute amounts from nearly 40 fossilized teeth of our South African fossil relatives, early Homo, Paranthropus robustus and Australopithecus africanus.

They measured the proportions of their stable calcium isotopes in the tooth enamel, which are a function of the mother milk intake by infants.

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