Ancient tooth changes scientists' ideas about African herders

March 10, 2015 3:29 PM

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Ancient tooth changes scientists' ideas about African herders

Previously, archaeologists have surmised that the tsetse -- and the sometimes deadly diseases (sleeping sickness and nagana) it carries -- served as a biological barrier to early pastoral people. But new evidence collected at Gogo Falls, just east of Lake Victoria in southwestern Kenya, shows the habitat there was predominately grassland.

In analyzing ancient tooth samples from cattle remains recovered from the site, researchers were able to prove not only the presence of ancient cattle, but that grassland was abundant -- not bushland. The isotopic analysis suggests pastoral Neolithic herders lived at Gogo Falls between 1,600 and 1,9...

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