All posts tagged with diet

The bison bone bed at Gran Dolina

4 minute read

In an earlier post, I looked at work by Mark White, Paul Pettitt, and Danielle Schreve, which considered evidence for Neandertal prey selectivity at five sit...

Neandertal slaughters

6 minute read

Back in 2016, Mark White, Paul Pettitt and Danielle Schreve published an interesting analysis in which they compared how Neandertals hunted and butchered ani...

The fattest bear

less than 1 minute read

I enjoyed the Washington Post account of the “annual fattest bear contest” in Katmai National Park: “America’s fattest bear has now been crowned”.

The dawn of bread

1 minute read

Archaeologists working at Shubayqa 1, a site in northeastern Jordan, found tiny fragments of an ancient unleavened bread as they were excavating a hearth. Th...

Link: The phylogeny of our plant foods

less than 1 minute read

The Botanist in the Kitchen takes a look at the phylogenetic relationships among some of the major plant foods in Western diets: “The Food Plant Tree of Life...

Link: Obesity on the rise

1 minute read

The National Post of Canada has a long article by Sharon Kirkey on the rise of obesity: “The shape of the future: Is obesity a crisis or just the latest stag...

Why do male bonobos have such low body fat?

3 minute read

I can’t be the only one surprised at how little body fat male bonobos have. A study of bonobo dissections by Adrienne Zihlman and Debra Bolter (2015) include...

Link: ‘Ancestral’ microbiomes

1 minute read

Ed Yong covers a new preprint quantifying the microbiome diversity of hunter-gatherer people in Cameroon, in comparison to local agricultural people: “Surpri...

To fish or not to fish

5 minute read

This summer I pointed to an article about the FwJj20 locality at Koobi Fora, which provides the earliest known evidence of systematic fish exploitation in th...

An exotic intestinal infusion

2 minute read

Jeff Leach, at the “Human Food Project”, has written pungently about a bout of microbiome self-experimentation: “(Re)Becoming Human: what happened the day I ...

Selection and lactase persistence

3 minute read

I received a letter about lactase persistence that motivated me to a fairly long reply; I thought I would share the question and answer:

Notable: Neandertal rock dove hunting

less than 1 minute read

Notable paper: Blasco, R., Finlayson, C., Rosell, J., Marco, A.S., Finlayson, S., Finlayson, G., Negro, J.J., Pacheco, F. G., Vidal, J. R. (2014) The earlies...

A chimpanzee termite-eating story

1 minute read

Micaela Jemison of Smithsonian Science describes a recent study by Robert O’Malley investigating the use of termites by wild chimpanzees at Gombe. The piece ...

The case of the Neandertal salmon

1 minute read

I’ve been doing a good amount of reading about Neandertal diets lately, and have some stuff to report. First, a recent paper by Hervé Bocherens, Gennady Bary...

Neandertal self-medication

5 minute read

Karen Hardy and colleagues (2013) have a brief paper in a recent issue of Antiquity putting into context their recent finding about possible medicinal plant ...

Pointing to entomophagy

less than 1 minute read

Julie Lesnik is a biological anthropologist who has done a lot of research on insect consumption, by ancient hominins, living humans and living non-human pri...

Genetics of smell and population history

4 minute read

I want to point to a recent paper by Jeremy McRae and colleagues McRae:2013, which identifies previously-unknown genetic associations with smell sensitivity ...

Josh Snodgrass profile

1 minute read

The Scientist is running a profile of University of Oregon anthropologist Josh Snodgrass, who studies the biology of indigenous peoples of Siberia and Ecuado...

Lactase persistence in review

1 minute read

Nature this week has a nice news article about the evolution of lactase persistence by Andrew Curry: “Archaeology: The milk revolution”. The article discusse...

The complexity of obesity

1 minute read

A moderately long read by David Berreby in Aeon magazine looks at a gaggle of theories about the causes and consequences of the worldwide epidemic of obesity...

Weaning a Neandertal

6 minute read

Last week, Nature published a paper by Christine Austin and colleagues, in which they developed a new approach to understand how breastfeeding affects the el...

Paleo and "physical culture" movements

less than 1 minute read

NPR has a short piece with an interesting historical story about old-time back-to-nature fitness fanatics: “Paleo Diet Echoes Physical Culture Movement Of Ye...

Oldowan hunting behaviors at Kanjera South

6 minute read

Joseph Ferraro and colleagues have done some neat analyses of the faunal remains from Kanjera South, Kenya Ferraro:carnivory:2013. Kanjera South is an archae...

My review of "Paleofantasy"

2 minute read

I have a review of Marlene Zuk’s new book, Paleofantasy, in this week’s Nature: “Evolutionary biology: Twisting the tale of human evolution” Hawks:Paleofanta...

Coprolite microbial ecology

3 minute read

The advent of metagenomic analysis of microbial communities has led to some unexpected insights about human biology. These techniques have quietly been leadi...

Indus curry leftovers

1 minute read

Slate has a fun story by Andrew Lawler that covers some of how we study ancient diets: “The Mystery of Curry”:

Selection is for the dogs

5 minute read

I was really pleased to see the new paper by Erik Axelsson and colleagues Axelsson:2013 on the pattern of recent selection on domesticated dogs. As we began ...

Slow cooking Neandertal subsistence

6 minute read

During the past couple of years, new evidence has really shifted our view of Neandertal diet. Even three years ago, it was not unusual to hear Neandertals de...

Cheesy evidence

1 minute read

I’m totally socked in with work this week, but this new paper in Nature is an interesting piece of archaeological chemistry relevant to diet change in the Eu...

Panda gestion

less than 1 minute read

Here’s a story that showed up in my feed this morning: “Prehistoric man ate panda, claims scientist”.

The Stalin Age diet

2 minute read

Dan Lieberman, writing in the New York Times, supports the Bloomburg soda ban with a call for additional regulations banning: “Evolution’s Sweet Tooth”.

Population gut metagenomics

less than 1 minute read

The new research by Tanya Yatsunenko and colleagues examining gut microbiomes in different human populations is just incredibly cool work Yatsunenko:2012. I ...

A stretch of Bronze Age river

1 minute read

In the course of studying recent human evolution, I’ve done a lot of work on the skeletal remains of Bronze Age Europeans. This is a series of cultures we kn...

Putting together australopithecine diets

3 minute read

Peter Ungar and Matt Sponheimer earlier this fall Ungar:Sponheimer:2011 reviewed the evidence for diet in early hominins, from both microwear studies (Ungar’...

Potato sack race

less than 1 minute read

Smithsonian magazine has a very nice article by Charles C. Mann, “How the Potato Changed the World”, focusing on the effects of the Columbian exchange on Eur...

The diet of Gigantopithecus

5 minute read

Gigantopithecus has often been described as a bamboo eater, based on analogy with another kind of large herbivore in China, the giant panda. Giant pandas hav...

Nutcracker Man debunked

5 minute read

This week, Thure Cerling and colleagues report in PNAS (2011) carbon stable isotope data from 24 specimens of Australopithecus boisei. This is a huge sample ...

Neandertal taste

2 minute read

I didn’t comment on this study when it came out in 2009, but as I’m reviewing some materials I thought it worth taking down a note. Carles Lalueza-Fox and co...

Tartar control and Neandertal plant use

6 minute read

Dental plaque is a biofilm made up of bacteria adhering to the enamel surface of the teeth. Plaque is soft but over many days can gradually calcify. The hard...

Copy number variation in 1000 Genomes

5 minute read

When I wrote earlier in the week about the 1000 Genomes Project results, I mentioned that a second paper was being published in Science. That paper, by Peter...

Lasting supper

less than 1 minute read

This is a great story about “portion sizes” increasing over the centuries in “Last Supper” paintings, but I haven’t been able to get the paper yet.

Mmmm…geese….

less than 1 minute read

New York is considering a plan “to eliminate 170,000 wild Canada geese”:

Mailbag: Milk drinking

1 minute read

I read some older posts on your blog about dispersal of lactase persistance world wide. Is it not so that everyone can digest lactose at birth and that the p...

The lion diet

2 minute read

National Geographic News a couple of weeks ago ran a story about lion-eating at Gran Dolina (“Prehistoric Europeans Hunted, Ate Lion?”):

Fishy story from Koobi Fora

7 minute read

I have to credit a reader for that headline, and for forwarding the paper. It’s another case of the infamous PNAS release policy. The press that came from th...

Papyrus and A. boisei

3 minute read

I’ve had on my stack for quite a long time, a short paper by Nicholas van der Merwe and colleagues, assessing the stable carbon isotope ratios in several spe...

UC-Berkeley genetic tests for freshmen

1 minute read

I’m not sure which tags to apply to this story. I’m torn between “colossally-bad-ideas” and “university-auditions-for-big-brother”.

The simple foods

1 minute read

James McWilliams comments on the simple, local foods movement: “The Persistence of the Primitive Food Movement”. His theme, with several interesting historic...

Mailbag: Hidden lactase persistence alleles?

less than 1 minute read

I just noticed this new article that I thought you might be interested in, suggesting that lactase persistence known genetics can't currently wholly explain ...

Food guidelines

less than 1 minute read

As long as I’m linking to the Daily Mail for their “Neanderthal metrosexuals” quip, I thought I’d pass along a story I liked – “Unlikely but brilliantly simp...

Seeds of MSA diet breadth

2 minute read

Julio Mercader reports in a short Science paper that the MSA stone artifacts from Ngalue cave, Mozambique, preserve thousands of grains of sorghum starch, al...

The fishy spaces of the Middle Pleistocene

6 minute read

In Science this week, Nira Alperson-Afil and colleagues report on recent excavations at Gesher Benot Ya’aqov, Israel. I saw some of this research presented a...

You are what your ancestors ate, part 1

1 minute read

Ann Gibbons has a long news article in the current Science reporting on an interdisciplinary conference on recent human diet evolution (“What’s for Dinner? R...

Just ducky

2 minute read

A week or two ago, I was pointed by a press release to some recent research from Bolomor Cave, Spain, where the levels occupied by early/pre-Neandertals have...

The shells of Trinil

8 minute read

I want to share a paper that might not get a lot of attention but that I think makes an interesting contribution to understanding the ecology of early Homo a...

The network effect

less than 1 minute read

Jonah Lehrer writes in Wired about two researchers using network theory and data mining to understand how obesity spread in the American population: “The Bud...

Neandertals, plants, and fish

1 minute read

I don’t read Spanish well, but I’m going to go ahead and link a news article in a Spanish journal about Neandertal diet and cooking at the Spanish site of El...

Lactase persistence on the march

1 minute read

Everybody’s noticing the new article in PLoS Computational Biology about lactase persistence, which I’ve been emailed from several readers. Thanks for sendin...

Food: it's so good

1 minute read

Tara Parker-Pope of the NY Times reports on former FDA chief David Kessler’s new book, The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appet...

But will it include recipes?

1 minute read

I’ve ordered a copy of Richard Wrangham’s new book, Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human. I was weighing it, and a reader tipped me over the edge. I’ll g...

Plant processing with early Oldowan tools

4 minute read

Ann Gibbons was at the AAPA meetings early last month, and she reports in the current Science on some of the research. Her article about the use of early Old...

"You ate raw monkey for science?"

2 minute read

The New York Times has an interview with primatologist Richard Wrangham, who’s promoting a new book, “Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human.

Putting down roots

1 minute read

Last year, I reported on the strontium isotope study that showed that the Lakonis Greek Neandertal individual died at least 20 km from the place he was raise...

"Paleofantasies"

1 minute read

In the Science Times today, an essay by Marlene Zuk:

Neandertals: not all hypercarnivores

1 minute read

Razib points to a story about a human origins symposium at Harvard – the same one where the Neandertal genome was discussed. This story includes a review of ...

Neandertal diet was not dolphin-safe

8 minute read

Chris Stringer and colleagues (including Finlayson and Barton) have a paper in the current PNAS early bin describing Neandertal exploitation of marine mammal...

Apes like barbecue

4 minute read

A paper in the current Journal of Human Evolution by Victoria Wobber, Brian Hare and Richard Wrangham (Wobber et al., 2008) reports on a series...

Obesity in the genes

2 minute read

Mason Inman has a cute article on Inkling, titled "Do these genes make me look fat?" It's a riff on the thrifty genotype hypothesis:

Obesity in the genes, II

2 minute read

While I'm pointing to articles about obesity genetics, I should include this book excerpt by Gina Kolata, which appeared in the NY Times a couple of weeks a...

The spread of acne

5 minute read

I found this article by Loren Cordain et al. while I was looking for something else, and thought I'd point it out:

Lactase persistence parallelism

less than 1 minute read

Nicholas Wade has an article in the Times this weekend concerning lactase persistence in Africans, which appears to have arisen in three separate mutations,...

The real Neanderthin

3 minute read

I was talking to some folks about the isotope values for Neandertals, and was immensely surprised to find out that nitrogen-15 (15N) proportions can be driv...

Robust australopithecine diet ablated

6 minute read

Sponheimer and colleagues (2006, link) zapped some Swartkrans teeth with lasers to measure their 13C content. I wrote quite a bit here last year about austr...

Shellfish use by Neandertals

5 minute read

I got the Neanderthals on the Edge volume by interlibrary loan to follow up the Barton shellfish consumption reference. Here is the relevant passage from th...

Fascinated by the monkey chow diet

less than 1 minute read

Is it so wrong that my guilty pleasure this week is reading this man's diary of his experiment in eating only monkey chow?

More on myosin mutations

3 minute read

Melanie McCollum and colleagues have a short paper in JHE about the evolution of MYH16, the myosin gene associated with masticatory musculature.

Variation in NAT1 and NAT2

6 minute read

There's a new paper in AJHG by Patin and colleagues, which is just chock full of interesting stuff. The genes studied are NAT1 and NAT2, called "N-acetyltra...

Tooth wear in early Homo

less than 1 minute read

Discovery News has an article summarizing some of Peter Ungar's recent work on tooth anatomy and wear in early Homo.

Neandertals: gone fishin' or not?

1 minute read

An earlier post reviewed recent work by Bocherens and colleaugues (2005) attributing high nitrogen-15 proportions in Neandertal bones to mammoth consumption...

Neandertals noshed on mammoth meat?

7 minute read

In an article in the Jul 2005 issue of Journal of Human Evolution, Hervé Bocherens and colleagues contribute new isotopic values for bone collagen fr...

Enamel thickness in Afropithecus

4 minute read

Tanya M. Smith and colleagues (2003) measured the enamel of two Afropithecus molars, examining both their thickness and the periodicity of enamel formation....

The life and times of Gigantopithecus

4 minute read

Russ Ciochon has a very nice article about Gigantopithecus up on his department webpage. The article appeared in Natural History magazine in 1991. It featu...

Chemistry and early hominid diets

17 minute read

The chemical analysis of bones to interpret diet rests on the observation that different foods vary in the composition of different chemical elements or iso...

Diet and mtDNA selection

2 minute read

Lowell and Shulman (2005) report on the possible links between the metabolic defects underlying type 2 diabetes and mitochondrial dysfunction. These links g...