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New technology shows our ancestors ate…everything!

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.


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Source:Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions


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