Navigation Links
Diet of early human relative Australopithecus shows surprises, says Texas A&M researcher
Date:6/27/2012

Australopithecus sediba, believed to be an early relative of modern-day humans, enjoyed a diet of leaves, fruits, nuts, and bark, which meant they probably lived in a more wooded environment than is generally thought, a surprising find published in the current issue of Nature magazine by an international team of researchers that includes a Texas A&M University anthropologist.

Darryl de Ruiter, associate professor in the Department of Anthropology, says the new findings are in contrast to previously documented diets of other hominin species and suggests that Australopithecus sediba had a different living environment than other hominins in the region. Previous research had shown that the australopiths of South Africa lived in the vicinity of grassy and open savannah-like areas, though it was unclear whether they actually occupied a savannah habitat, or if they lived in forested margins near the grasslands.

The team examined teeth from skeletal remains of a group of newly discovered hominins found several years ago in a South African cave about 30 miles northwest of Johannesburg and dated to about 1.98 million years old. The team, comprised of researchers from the United States, Africa, Europe and Australia, named the new species Australopithecus sediba and demonstrated that it displayed a mosaic of both human-like and ape-like characteristics shared both with other forms of Australopithecus and with modern-day humans.

"By examining material recovered from their teeth using diverse tools ranging from dental picks and laser ablation devices, we were able to determine precisely what they were eating," de Ruiter explains.

"This gives us a very clear picture of their diet, and it was surprising. It shows that they ate more fruits and leaves than any other hominin fossil ever examined, more like what a chimp might eat. There was no evidence of them eating native grasses of the area at that time, which is what we see in other australopiths in the region."

Australopithecus is a genus of hominins that is now extinct. Ape-like in structure, yet walking bipedally similar to modern humans, they are considered to have played a significant role in human evolution, and it is generally held among anthropologists that a form of Australopithecus eventually evolved into modern humans.

The Texas A&M anthropologist says the analysis of phytoliths structures found in plants that often get trapped in plaque on teeth alongside examination of the chemical makeup of the hominin teeth, suggests that they had a varied diet, and diet of early Australopithecus is a key component central to the study of human origins.

"It shows they had a diet more similar to that of a chimp than anything else," he notes, "though we cannot yet say how much overlap existed between the diets of hominins and chimps.

"They ate fruits, tree bark, nuts, leaves, and sedges, plants such as papyrus or cypress. They might also have consumed some type of animal protein, perhaps in the form of insects or meat, but a lot more research will be required before we can say for sure one way or the other.

"Our findings clearly show they had access to more food sources than we had previously established," he notes.


'/>"/>

Contact: Keith Randall
keith-randall@tamu.edu
979-845-4644
Texas A&M University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Artificial womb unlocks secrets of early embryo development
2. Mid-Atlantic suburbs can expect an early spring thanks to the heat of the big city
3. An early spring drives butterfly population declines
4. Hazy shades of life on early Earth
5. American Society of Plant Biologists honors early career women scientists
6. Early warning system for seizures could cut false alarms
7. A new gene thought to be the cause in early-onset forms of Alzheimers disease
8. Promising developments in early diagnosis and treatment of mesothelioma
9. Early detection techniques offer hope for improved outcomes in lung cancer patients
10. New study links air pollution and early death in the UK
11. Attendees Save Up To $800 on Boston-area Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Conferences, Early Bird Discounts Expiring April 27
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/11/2017)... , Apr. 11, 2017 Research and ... Market 2017-2021" report to their offering. ... The global eye tracking market to grow at a ... report, Global Eye Tracking Market 2017-2021, has been prepared based on ... covers the market landscape and its growth prospects over the coming ...
(Date:4/5/2017)... , April 5, 2017  The Allen Institute ... Allen Cell Explorer: a one-of-a-kind portal and dynamic digital ... 3D imaging data, the first application of deep learning ... human stem cell lines and a growing suite of ... platform for these and future publicly available resources created ...
(Date:4/3/2017)... , April 3, 2017  Data ... precision engineering platform, detected a statistically significant ... product prior to treatment and objective response ... the potential to predict whether cancer patients ... to treatment, as well as to improve ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:4/21/2017)... , ... April 21, 2017 , ... ... Webster Bank, today announced first round funding to three startups through the UConn ... financial support to new business startups affiliated with UConn. , The UConn Innovation ...
(Date:4/21/2017)... ... 2017 , ... The AMA is happy to announce that $48,000 in scholarships ... The scholarships are created through funds donated by model aviation organizations and individuals, AMA ... the AMA Scholarship Committee, which is made up of model aviation pilots and enthusiasts. ...
(Date:4/21/2017)... ... April 21, 2017 , ... Frederick Innovative Technology Center, ... emerging technology-based businesses, recently earned a $77,518 grant from the Rural Maryland Council ... 2004, FITCI is Frederick’s first incubator. A non-profit corporation, FITCI is a public-private ...
(Date:4/20/2017)... ... April 20, 2017 , ... Assured Enterprises, Inc. ... offer a full spectrum of digital security goods and services. The strategic partners ... the ground-breaking proactive cybersecurity services and products through Assured Enterprises. The two companies ...
Breaking Biology Technology: