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Research Reveals Early Human Ancestors Breastfed for Up To Six Years

by | July 22, 2019

A groundbreaking new study has shown that an early ancestor to humans, Australopithecus Africanus, may have breastfed their babies for up to six years.

Anatomy Bone
Human Skull (source: unsplash)

New data on the breastfeeding habits of our ancient ancestors has been uncovered by researchers from Southern Cross University.

The study, published in Nature International Journal of Science, analysed the teeth of Australopithecus Africanus to determine its results.

According to The Conversation, researchers used a laser to remove tiny pieces of the fossils of teeth for examination. The laser method, a critical advancement in technology, allowed the researchers to closely examine the varying diet of Australopithecus Africanus.

Researchers looked at the levels of barium, strontium and lithium in fossil teeth of two individuals, amounts of which can vary significantly with diet. Since breastmilk has a high concentration of barium, increased levels in teeth samples can be indicative of the intensity and duration of breastfeeding.

While this may appear to be a case for breastfeeding to continue later into childhood, scientists have warned that the excessive metabolic stress placed on the mothers may have contributed to the species eventual extinction.


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