|Title||The diet of Australopithecus sediba|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2012|
|Authors||Henry, AG, Ungar, PS, Passey, BH, Sponheimer, M, Rossouw, L, Bamford, M, Sandberg, P, de Ruiter, DJ, Berger, L|
|Keywords||A. sediba, diet, Malapa|
Specimens of Australopithecus sediba from the site of Malapa, South Africa (dating from approximately 2 million years (Myr) ago)1 present a mix of primitive and derived traits that align the taxon with other Australopithecus species and with early Homo2. Although much of the available cranial and postcranial material of Au. sediba has been described3, 4, 5, 6, its feeding ecology has not been investigated. Here we present results from the first extraction of plant phytoliths from dental calculus of an early hominin. We also consider stable carbon isotope and dental microwear texture data for Au. sediba in light of new palaeoenvironmental evidence. The two individuals examined consumed an almost exclusive C3 diet that probably included harder foods, and both dicotyledons (for example, tree leaves, fruits, wood and bark) and monocotyledons (for example, grasses and sedges). Like Ardipithecus ramidus (approximately 4.4 Myr ago) and modern savanna chimpanzees, Au. sediba consumed C3 foods in preference to widely available C4 resources. The inferred consumption of C3 monocotyledons, and wood or bark, increases the known variety of early hominin foods. The overall dietary pattern of these two individuals contrasts with available data for other hominins in the region and elsewhere.
The diet of Australopithecus sediba
For years, I've worked on their bones. Now I'm working on their genes. Read more about the science studying these ancient people.
From a finger bone of an ancient human came the record of a completely unexpected population. My lab is working on the science of the Denisova genome.
The advent of agriculture caused natural selection to speed up greatly in humans. We're uncovering some of the ways that populations have rapidly changed during the last 10,000 years.