Press Esc to close
Thursday 27 July 2017
News updated at 2:49 AM IST

Early humans survived on plants

London, Dec 17, 2012, PTI: 21:43 IST
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
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar coming out of Raj Bhawan after meeting Governor KN Tripathi...

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar coming out of Raj Bhawan after meeting Governor KN Tripathi...

India's Cheteshwar Pujara, left, and Shikhar Dhawan cheer each others during the first day's play...

India's Cheteshwar Pujara, left, and Shikhar Dhawan cheer each others during the first day's play...

Army officers pay homage at the Dras War Memorial on the occasion of Kargil Vijay Diwas, in Dras...

Army officers pay homage at the Dras War Memorial on the occasion of Kargil Vijay Diwas, in Dras...

Indian Women's Cricket team poses for a group photo during a press conference in Mumbai...

Indian Women's Cricket team poses for a group photo during a press conference in Mumbai...

Actor Akshay Kumar at a function organised to celebrate Kargil War Victory Day at Yashwantrao...

Actor Akshay Kumar at a function organised to celebrate Kargil War Victory Day at Yashwantrao...

Sand artist Sudarsan Pattnaik creates five sand sculptures of A P J Abdul Kalam at Puri beach...

Sand artist Sudarsan Pattnaik creates five sand sculptures of A P J Abdul Kalam at Puri beach...

Anant Maheshwari, President, Microsoft India and Rajiv Kumar, Corporate Vice President...

Anant Maheshwari, President, Microsoft India and Rajiv Kumar, Corporate Vice President...

Former Jharkhand Chief Minister Madhu Koda is seen ploughing his field, in Ranchi on Wednesday...

Former Jharkhand Chief Minister Madhu Koda is seen ploughing his field, in Ranchi on Wednesday...

Children move to safer place from a flooded village at Thiba in Birbhum district of West-Bengal...

Children move to safer place from a flooded village at Thiba in Birbhum district of West-Bengal...

Water level rise above danger level in Sipu dam after heavy rains in Deesa on Wednesday...

Water level rise above danger level in Sipu dam after heavy rains in Deesa on Wednesday...

Like us on Facebook

Copyright 2017, The Printers (Mysore) Private Ltd., 75, M.G Road, Post Box 5331, Bengaluru - 560001
Tel: +91 (80) 25880000 Fax No. +91 (80) 25880523
Powered by Yodasoft Technologies Pvt. Ltd.