Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Teeth? Who needs ’em?

 We’ve lost most of the Neanderthals. All the soft tissues have gone, and we don’t have a single complete skeleton of any individual.

 Some of the skeletons we’ve got have lost the teeth, as well as their soft parts. In fact we know that some Neanderthals lost their teeth years before they died.

 But how could they survive without teeth? We know that Neanderthals ate mostly meat because for quite a lot of the time there wasn’t much else around they could eat. But you need teeth if you’re going to eat steak, especially as a lot of it would have had to be eaten raw.

 So how did a toothless Neanderthal manage?

 Well, our best guess is that he or she used someone else’s teeth. That is, someone else chewed their meat for them and then passed it to them to swallow.

 Yes, I think it’s gross, too.

 But, hey, it makes for some interesting relationships when you're writing a book like SONG HUNTER.



  1. Well, that's a good notion...and still not as revolting as the BRAINS but I have to tell you that where there are TOOTHLESS CRONES, they often develop inordinately hard gums. Lots of people can crack a walnut with their gums. I was told this by my dentist in Manchester! So it must be true.

  2. That's a really interesting thought that's never occurred to me before.
    The books say that meat was chewed by someone else, but of course no one can know. If I'd been a Neanderthal toothless crone I think I would have cut my meat up very small with a flint blade and then gummed it about a bit to get the saliva working before swallowing.
    That wouldn't have been so much fun for the book, though!