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Even Ancient Men Seemed to Like Their Man Caves
Date:6/1/2011

By Maureen Salamon
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, June 1 (HealthDay News) -- The concept of the "man cave" has been entrenched in the human lineage for far longer than thought, according to new research that analyzed teeth from early humans to determine their geographic movement.

Scientists from the University of Colorado at Boulder found that males of two hominid species that roamed the South African savanna more than a million years ago stayed close to home -- which often included caves -- while females tended to move away.

The study, published in the June 2 issue of the journal Nature, suggests that fossils can reveal clues to early humans' social and gender-related behavior, said Jeffrey Laitman, director of the Center for Anatomy and Functional Morphology at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.

"This is strong and beautiful science," Laitman said. "It at least is giving us a glimpse that some of the behaviors we see today have roots going into the past. It may well be in our lineage that [males] liked their man caves."

Study author Sandi Copeland and her team studied teeth from a group of extinct Australopithecus africanus and Paranthropus robustus individuals from two adjacent cave systems in South Africa, finding that more than half of the female teeth were from outside the local area. But only about 10 percent of the male hominid teeth were from elsewhere, the study said, suggesting they likely grew up and died in the same area.

Using a high-tech analysis known as laser ablation, the researchers zapped the hominid teeth with lasers to measure isotope ratios of strontium found in tooth enamel, which helped identify specific areas of landscape use. Strontium is a naturally occurring element found in rocks and soils that is absorbed by plants and animals.

Copeland, an adjunct assistant professor of anthropology at UC-Boulder, said she was surprised when
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