Press Esc to close
Tuesday 21 October 2014
News updated at 6:36 PM IST
Weather
Max: 25.4°C
Min : 20.2°C
In Bangalore
Sunny day

Early humans survived on plants

London, Dec 17, 2012, PTI:

Early human ancestors in Central Africa survived on a diet consisting of tropical grasses and sedges between three and 3.5 million years ago, a new study has found.

An international research team led by Oxford University extracted information from the fossilised teeth of three Australopithecus bahrelghazali individuals - the first early hominins excavated at two sites in Chad.

Professor Julia Lee-Thorp with researchers from Chad, France and the US analysed the carbon isotope ratios in the teeth and found the signature of a diet rich in foods derived from C4 plants.


“We found evidence suggesting that early hominins, in central Africa at least, ate a diet mainly composed of tropical grasses and sedges, said Lee-Thorp, a specialist in isotopic analyses of fossil tooth enamel. “No African great apes, including chimpanzees, eat this type of food despite the fact it grows in abundance in tropical and subtropical regions.

“The only notable exception is the savannah baboon which still forages for these types of plants today. We were surprised to discover that early hominins appear to have consumed more than even the baboons,” Lee-Thorp said in a statement.

The discovery demonstrates how early hominins experienced a shift in their diet relatively early, at least in Central Africa.

The finding is significant in signalling how early humans were able to survive in open landscapes with few trees, rather than sticking only to types of terrain containing many trees. This allowed them to move out of the earliest ancestral forests or denser woodlands, and occupy and exploit new environments much farther afield, says the study.

The fossils of the three individuals, ranging between three million and 3.5 million years old, originate from two sites in the Djurab desert.

Go to Top

Photo Gallery
Army recruits during their attestation parade at Madras Regimental Centre, Wellington, Ooty on...

Army recruits during their attestation parade at Madras Regimental Centre, Wellington, Ooty on...

In this Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014 photo, a Kashmiri woman blocks a road during a protest demanding...

In this Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014 photo, a Kashmiri woman blocks a road during a protest demanding...

Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the 42nd Convocation of the All India Institute of Medical...

Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the 42nd Convocation of the All India Institute of Medical...

Devendra Fadnavis hugs his mother Savita after his victory during the Assembly election in...

Devendra Fadnavis hugs his mother Savita after his victory during the Assembly election in...

Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, Nirmala Sitaraman launching the Online Export...

Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, Nirmala Sitaraman launching the Online Export...

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with BJP President Amit Shah after the party's parliamentary...

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with BJP President Amit Shah after the party's parliamentary...

In this Oct. 17, 2014 photo, a thick blanket of smoke is seen against the setting sun as...

In this Oct. 17, 2014 photo, a thick blanket of smoke is seen against the setting sun as...

In this Monday, Oct. 13, 2014 photo, an Indian woman uses her hand to put sawdust in an...

In this Monday, Oct. 13, 2014 photo, an Indian woman uses her hand to put sawdust in an...

(L-R) Asha Bhat, Miss Diva Universe 2014 2nd runner up, Noyonita Lodh, Miss Diva Universe 2014...

(L-R) Asha Bhat, Miss Diva Universe 2014 2nd runner up, Noyonita Lodh, Miss Diva Universe 2014...

An Indian man teaches yoga postures to schoolchildren at Delhi Public School in Hyderabad...

An Indian man teaches yoga postures to schoolchildren at Delhi Public School in Hyderabad...

Copyright 2014, The Printers (Mysore) Private Ltd., 75, M.G Road, Post Box 5331, Bangalore - 560001
Tel: +91 (80) 25880000 Fax No. +91 (80) 25880523