Navigation Links
New technology shows our ancestors ate…everything!

Using a powerful microscope and computer software, a team of scientists from Johns Hopkins, the University of Arkansas, Worcester Polytechnic Institute and elsewhere has developed a faster and more objective way to examine the surfaces of fossilized teeth, a practice used to figure out the diets of our early ancestors.

By comparing teeth from two species of early humans, Australopithecus africanus and Paranthropus robustus, the researchers confirm previous evidence that A. africanus ate more tough foods, such as leaves, and P. robustus ate more hard, brittle foods. But they also revealed wear patterns suggesting that both species had variable diets. "This new information implies that early humans evolved and altered their diet according to seasonal and other changes in order to survive," said Mark Teaford, Ph.D., professor of functional anatomy and evolution at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

The new approach to studying dental microwear, the microscopic pits and scratches on the tooth surface caused by use, offers a more accurate measurement of the surface's appearance and is described in the August 4 issue of Nature.

"Paleontologists and physical anthropologists have had a somewhat naive view on diet, in part due to the limitations of time-consuming, subjective approaches to analyzing teeth," said Teaford. "So it's a huge step to have a reliable technology that detects subtler diet variations."

A team of scientists from the University of Arkansas and Worcester Polytechnic Institute developed the software, called "scale-sensitive fractal analysis," to analyze fossilized tooth surfaces through a confocal microscope, which allows three-dimensional analysis of an object. "You put the specimen in and the microscope is programmed to step down at fine intervals, perform its series of scans, and collect 3D coordinates for each data point," said Teaford. The result is like a map of the earth that shows mountains, valleys and plains in f ull relief, only at a microscopic scale.

As anticipated from traditional examination of fossilized teeth, the tooth surfaces of P. robustus were more pitted and complex, while those of A. africanus were more scratched, with features often running in more uniform directions. However, according to Teaford, who along with researchers from the University of Arkansas, Stony Brook University, and Pennsylvania State University carried out the data analysis, the study also revealed unexpected variability in the samples for each species and overlapping data for the two species. The researchers say this suggests that both species relied on their less preferred foods during periods of food scarcity. "If members of a species live in a seasonal environment, they can get all the soft fruit they need during the wet season," Teaford added. "But come dry season, they may have to process something very hard or tough in order to survive."

"For years, it's been a dream of many researchers interested in our lineage to obtain this kind of information," continued Teaford. "And the computer software is phenomenal, the heart and soul of this project. We now have a reliable technology to quickly and accurately measure such surfaces." Teaford said future applications of the computer software include not only projects in paleontology and anthropology, but also engineering. "You could use it to examine the wear of metal surfaces on each other or to monitor clean surfaces at a microscopic scale," said Teaford.

Besides Teaford, the authors of the paper are Robert Scott and Peter Ungar of the University of Arkansas; Torbjorn Bergstrom and Christopher Brown of Worcester Polytechnic Institute; Frederick Grine of State University of New York at Stony Brook; and Alan Walker of Pennsylvania State University.


'"/>

Source:Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions


Related biology news :

1. Novel technology detects human DNA mutations
2. Novel antiviral technology inhibits RSV infection in mice
3. The BIOS Initiative - open source biotechnology is born
4. Revolutionary nanotechnology illuminates brain cells at work
5. Study: homemade gene expression technology unreliable
6. First technology to remove prions that cause vCJD from blood launched
7. Integration of Agilents MS technology, Proteome Systems software to help scientists in proteomics research
8. Agilent Technologies new genome analysis technology set to accelerate Australia fight against mesothelioma
9. Recombinant DNA technology may enable oral, rather than injectable, delivery of protein drugs
10. First production of human monoclonal antibodies in chicken eggs published in Nature Biotechnology
11. Vietnam war technology could aid elephant conservation
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:


(Date:6/22/2016)... WASHINGTON , June 22, 2016 On ... highly-anticipated call to industry to share solutions for the ... by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), explains that ... nationals are departing the United States ... criminals, and to defeat imposters. Logo - ...
(Date:6/15/2016)... June 15, 2016 Transparency ... titled "Gesture Recognition Market by Application Market - Global Industry Analysis ... 2024". According to the report, the  global gesture recognition ... 2015 and is estimated to grow at a ... by 2024.  Increasing application of gesture ...
(Date:6/3/2016)... , June 3, 2016 ... Management) von Nepal ... und Lieferung hochsicherer geprägter Kennzeichen, einschließlich Personalisierung, ... führend in der Produktion und Implementierung von ... der Ausschreibung im Januar teilgenommen, aber Decatur ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/27/2016)... ... June 27, 2016 , ... Rolf K. Hoffmann, ... faculty of the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School effective ... at UNC Kenan-Flagler, with a focus on the school’s international efforts, leading classes ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... Epic Sciences unveiled a liquid biopsy ... PARP inhibitors by targeting homologous recombination deficiency (HRD) ... test has already been incorporated into numerous clinical ... Over 230 clinical trials are investigating ... PARP, ATM, ATR, DNA-PK and WEE-1. Drugs targeting ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... 2016 , ... UAS LifeSciences, one of the leading manufacturers ... Probiotics, into Target stores nationwide. The company, which has been manufacturing high quality ... list of well-respected retailers. This list includes such fine stores as Whole Foods, ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 Houston Methodist ... the Cy-Fair Sports Association to serve as their ... agreement, Houston Methodist Willowbrook will provide sponsorship support, ... connectivity with association coaches, volunteers, athletes and families. ... the Cy-Fair Sports Association and to bring Houston ...
Breaking Biology Technology: