The last ice age happened about 11,500 to 21,000 years ago. That period was completely different, and not only in terms of the chilly temperatures. All life on our planet went through some important changes. As for the early humans, they too survived and adapted to these changes and eventually, evolved into Home sapiens, or modern humans. However, according to a new study, which the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences recently published, something might have helped them survive that period. The researchers think it was a very rare breastfeeding-related genetic mutation.
However, in order to find out more about this mutation, we need to go back about 20,000 years. Back then, East Asians and Native Americans didn’t witness too much of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation. Because of this, the study claims, the skin of newborns didn’t produce to much Vitamin D. This harshly affected their growth and therefore, survival rate. However, this special mutation helped them counterbalance the effects of the lack of ultraviolet radiation. Basically, this genetic change consisted in larger mammary ducts in the breasts. This helped mothers provide a larger quantity of Vitamin D to the newborns through breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding likely helped early humans survive the ice age
According to the experts, the relationship between the mother and her baby has always been extremely important. Back then, it was crucial for survival. It’s also interesting that, according to the study, this mutation affected the people’s teeth. It seems that when this mutation was spreading, early Americans and northeast Asians had incisors that had the shape of a shovel.
Only the people from these two groups had teeth like this, proving even further that these discoveries are indeed true. Initially, researchers believed that the shovel-shaped teeth helped early humans eat animal skin. However, it seems that this new theory is completely different and might be the real one.
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