17:04 10 March 2017
International researchers who have examined evidence from ancient DNA found that Neanderthals dosed themselves with painkillers and penicillin long before antibiotics were developed.
One sick Neanderthal chewed the bark of the poplar tree, which contains a chemical related to aspirin.
The researchers have sequenced his DNA preserved in dental tartar and have found out new details of the diet, lifestyle and health of our closest extinct relatives.
Prof Alan Cooper, director of the University of Adelaide's Australian Centre for Ancient DNA, said: "Their behaviour and their diet looks a lot more sophisticated and a lot more like us in many ways,"
"You know, we've got a guy self-medicating either because he's got a dental abscess, which was bad, or a nasty gastrointestinal parasite, which was also bad, either way he wasn't a happy guy.
"And, here he is eating aspirin and we're finding penicillin mould in him."
Prof Keith Dobney, from the University of Liverpool, a co-researcher on the study, added: "This extraordinary window on the past is providing us with new ways to explore and understand our evolutionary history through the microorganisms that lived in us and with us,"