An employee of the Natural History Museum in London looks at model of a Neanderthal male in his twenties, September 2014. Will Oliver/PA Images/Getty

Images of our human ancestors in popular culture often depict muscly hunters chasing and feasting on big game. So it makes sense that contemporary imitators follow diets like Paleo and keto that are meat-heavy and low-carb.

But new evidence suggests that Neanderthals and their ancestors consumed hefty portions of starchy carbohydrates as they expanded across eastern Africa and into Europe.

Traces of ancient bacteria on Neanderthal teeth suggest that starting at least 600,000 years ago, our ancestors ate carb-rich plant foods to meet the energy demands of increasingly bigger brains. That’s according to a study published Monday from a team including anthropologists at Harvard

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