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Early humans had 'jaws of steel'
Date:2/3/2009

g it to a similar model built for a species of monkey called macaques," Spencer explained.

The result a rainbow colored virtual skull that illustrates forces absorbed by the cranial structure in simulated bite scenarios and how their unusual facial features were ideally suited to support the heavy loads of cracking hard nuts.

"It was like watching 'Mrs. Ples' come to life," Spencer said.

"This reinforces the body of research indicating that facial specializations in species of early humans are adaptations due to a specialized diet," said Spencer. "The enlargement of the premolars, the heavy tooth enamel and the evidence now that they were loading forcefully on the molars suggest the size of the objects were larger than the previously hypothesized small seeds and nuts.

"These fall-back foods hard nuts and seeds were important survival strategies during a period of changing climates and food scarcity," he added. "Our research shows that early, pre-stone tool human ancestors solved problems with their jaws that modern humans would have solved with tools."


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Contact: Jodi Guyot
jodi.guyot@asu.edu
480-727-8739
Arizona State University
Source:Eurekalert  

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