Researchers: “Nutcracker Man” mainly ate grass, it turns out
|October 15, 2011||Posted by News under Human evolution, News|
Yeah, one of those types. Alfalfa Sprouts Man. Still extant, unfortunately, in any caf infested by health nuts.
From “New Technologies Challenge Old Ideas About Early Hominid Diets (ScienceDaily, Oct. 14, 2011), we learn:
By analyzing microscopic pits and scratches on hominid teeth, as well as stable isotopes of carbon found in teeth, researchers are getting a very different picture of the diet habitats of early hominids than that painted by the physical structure of the skull, jawbones and teeth. While some early hominids sported powerful jaws and large molars — including Paranthropus boisei, dubbed “Nutcracker Man” — they may have cracked nuts rarely if at all, said CU-Boulder anthropology Professor Matt Sponheimer, study co-author.
Well, it’s awful hard on the teeth, and there were no dentists back then.
The results for teeth from Paranthropus boisei, published earlier this year, indicated they were eating foods from the so-called C4 photosynthetic pathway, which points to consumption of grasses and sedges.
Like we said.
The analysis stands in contrast to our closest human relatives like chimpanzees and gorillas that eat foods from the so-called C3 synthetic pathway pointing to a diet that included trees, shrubs and bushes.
Crikey! Can we see that grass menu again?
“The bottom line is that our old answers about hominid diets are no longer sufficient, and we really need to start looking in directions that would have been considered crazy even a decade ago,” Sponheimer said. “We also see much more evidence of dietary variability among our hominid kin than was previously appreciated. Consequently, the whole notion of hominid diet is really problematic, as different species may have consumed fundamentally different things.”
Some of us have wondered why so little attention is given to ancient humans eating fish. Fish can often be trapped quite simply, and shellfish can often merely be gathered. And it’s equal opportunity, as between men, women, and children.