Ancient human ancestors had unique diet, according to study involving
When it came to eating, an upright, 2 million-year-old African hominid had a
diet unlike virtually all other known human ancestors, says a study led by the
Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany and
involving the University of Colorado Boulder. The study indicated that
Australopithecus sediba -- a short, gangly hominid that lived in South Africa
-- ate harder foods than other early hominids, targeting trees, bushes and
fruits. In contrast, virtually all other ancient human ancestors tested from
Africa -- including Paranthropus boisei, dubbed "Nutcracker www.chanelsacsacheter2012.com Man" because
of its massive jaws and teeth -- focused more on grasses and sedges, said
CU-Boulder doctoral student Paul Sandberg, a co-author on the new study.
The A. sediba diet was analyzed using a technique that involved zapping
fossilized teeth with a laser, said Sandberg. The laser frees telltale carbon
from the enamel of teeth, allowing scientists to pinpoint the types of plants
that were consumed and the environments in which the hominids lived. The carbon
signals from the teeth are split into two groups: C3 plants like trees, shrubs
and bushes preferred by A. sediba, and C4 plants like grasses and sedges
consumed by many other early hominids.
The teeth from the two A. sediba individuals analyzed in the study had
carbon isotope values outside the range of all 81 previously tested hominids.
"The lack of any C4 evidence, and the evidence for the consumption of hard
objects, are what make the inferred diet of these individuals compelling,"
à main Chanel said Sandberg.
"It is an important finding, because diet is one of the fundamental aspects
of an animal, one that drives its behavior and ecological niche. As
environments change over time because of shifting climates, animals are
generally sac Chanel forced to either move or to adapt to their new
surroundings," said Sandberg of CU-Boulder's anthropology department.
The researchers concluded from their scientific tests that bark and other
fracture-resistant foods were at least a seasonal part of the A. sediba diet.
While bark and woody tissues had not been previously documented as a dietary
component of any other ancient African hominids, such foods are consumed by
many contemporary primates and contain both protein and soluble sugars. The
diet of A. sediba may have been similar to that of today's African savanna
chimpanzees, Sandberg said.