The earliest known example of a vegetative body state is a large-scale burial of humans in northern China.
Researchers have now reconstructed the burial and discovered that the state was present from roughly 4,000 years ago to 1,400 years ago.
The burials of the early agriculturalists are thought to be a marker for a period of extreme poverty, famine and disease.
A second example is a stone burial in the city of Chengdu, China, dated to around 10,000 BC.
The stone was later found to be composed of a mix of stone and charcoal, indicating that it may have been a charcoal oven.
The researchers have also found the remains of people who died in the first two burials, indicating the presence of a number of vegetative forms.
“We have reconstructed the vegetative remains and have shown that this type of vegetational state existed in the pre-modern period, and it was very widespread,” said study co-author Dr. Thomas Hwang from the University of California, Davis.
“The fact that we have a variety of different kinds of vegetations indicates that this kind of system existed for a long time.”
In their study, the researchers looked at how the ancient people of Chengdao managed to survive without the food they needed to survive and for the rest of their lives.
The first evidence of a ‘vegetative state’ was found in the earliest burials that date to around 4,200 years ago, which is the earliest period known for which there are still remains of human remains.
In addition to a wide variety of forms, the team also found some interesting differences in the diets of these people.
“A lot of the remains we found showed that the vegetarians were more active than the carnivores.
They probably had more meat to eat,” said Hwang.
“In addition to the fact that the people were vegetarian, the fact is that they were very poor, which makes it hard to estimate their diet. “
This is a very interesting and fascinating study because it provides us with an early insight into how early humans lived,” said co-investigator Dr. Andrew Hays from the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History.
“In addition to the fact that the people were vegetarian, the fact is that they were very poor, which makes it hard to estimate their diet.
They had a very poor life expectancy and we can speculate on how much of their diet they consumed.”
Vegetative state remains ‘a very significant indicator’ of the diet of early humans Source: University of Washington (US)