The fossils were discovered in Sri Lanka and experts see them as proof that human ancestors inhabited the rainforests much earlier than what was previously assumed.
The researchers from Oxford University worked with scientists from Sri Lanka and the University of Bradford to analyze the 20,000 year old teeth that belonged to 26 humans.
All the fossils were discovered buried inside several archaeological sites from Sri Lanka.
For the study, the scientists evaluated the oxygen and carbon isotopes collected from the tooth enamel. The analysis revealed that most of the fossils, which are between 3,000 and 20,000 years old, showed evidence of a diet that consisted mainly of plants and animals that live in rainforests.
The findings are really important because they push back the time the scientists believed early humans started to live in rainforests.
Previous studies suggested that the human ancestors began dwelling in luxuriant vegetation approximately 10,000 years ago.
Experts believed that early humans avoided the rainforest because of its many species of predators and poisonous plants. The main theory was that they stayed out of the rainforests until the beginning of the Holocene period, which started approximately 12,000 years ago.
Mike Petraglia, one of the researchers who took part in the study, explained that the human communities that lived in Sri Lanka tens of thousands of years ago learned how to adapt to the harsh conditions of the rainforests.
Patrick Roberts, co-author of the study, added that humans learned how to manipulate and live within the rainforests for at least 20,000 years and most probably even longer than that.
The 20,000 year old teeth were found in the Batadomba-lena rock shelter in the south west regions of Sri Lanka.
The researchers deduced from what they found that early humans who populated the rainforests survived by hunting monkey, giant squirrels, porcupines, deer and other species of mammals. They drank fresh water, ate nuts, plants and snails, according to the researchers.
The researchers detailed their findings in a study published in the journal Science.
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