"The subtle implication is that in this instance, it was not hunted but scavenged meat and marrow, since the really large animal was almost certainly outside the ability of hominins to kill. This could be a key tipping point in the origins of human uniqueness," Marean said. "One of the big steps in human evolution is when males and females pair-bond, and males provided females with meat. This result may suggest this is happening at this early stage in human origins."
Other co-authors of the Nature paper include paleontologists Denn Reed, University of Texas, Austin; Denis Geraads, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris; and Ren Bobe, University of Georgia.
The interdisciplinary nature of the team exemplifies what collaboration between social sciences and physical sciences can produce, noted ASU's Barat.
"I believe that, in the coming few decades, major archaeological discoveries are to be expected in the laboratory rather than in the field," he said, advocating for more archaeometric studies, which are like forensic investigations. "In both cases, the scientist is investigating a process or an act. In this case from Dikika, our role was to confirm, using physical/engineering methods, that the act of cutting the bones was old and thus corresponded to our remote hominin ancestor."
Arizona State University (www.asu.edu)
Institute of Human Origins (http://iho.asu.edu)
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (http://clas.asu.edu)
School of Human Evolution and Social Change (http://shesc.asu.edu)
School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy (http://engineering.asu.edu/emte)
Tempe, Arizona USA
|Contact: Carol Hughes|
Arizona State University