Friday, June 29, 2012

The Diet of Australopithecus sediba

There is some suspicion that Australopithecus sediba, discovered by Lee Berger (or, rather, his son) may be on the line that eventually leads to Homo. This is not clear but right now, it is as good as any model we have. We now know a bit more about what Au. sediba ate. According to Science Daily:
Australopithecus sediba, believed to be an early relative of modern-day humans, enjoyed a diet of leaves, fruits, nuts, and bark, which meant they probably lived in a more wooded environment than is generally thought, a surprising find published in the current issue of Nature magazine by an international team of researchers that includes a Texas A&M University anthropologist.1
The goofy thing is that these hominins (or at least the ones we have) ate much more of these kinds of items than any other hominin we have discovered. In fact, their diet is much more like that of a chimpanzee than a hominin. This probably means nothing more than that is what they had access to but it does mean they were having a diet different from the robusts. Au. sediba’s teeth are gracile, in comparison to those of the robusts or earlier australopiths. It was definitely a forested environment.

1Amanda G. Henry, Peter S. Ungar, Benjamin H. Passey, Matt Sponheimer, Lloyd Rossouw, Marion Bamford, Paul Sandberg, Darryl J. de Ruiter, Lee Berger. The diet of Australopithecus sediba. Nature, 2012;

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