Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A. sediba ate like a giraffe

Amanda Henry and colleageus report in Nature on the diet of Australopithecus sediba.  The results are somewhat surprising, with carbon isotope values indicating an almost exclusively C3 diet (trees, leaves,  fruit, bark etc), even thought A. sediba lived in an environment with plentiful C4 resources (grasses and sedges).  Dental microwear complexity analyses indicate some hard object feeding, consistent with that seen in P. robustus. Finally, taxonomic identification of the plant phytoliths preserved in the dental calculus of one of the specimens supports a diet including fruit and bark.  

These results are somewhat surprising given that most other early hominins had a diet with considerably more C4 resources.  A. sediba continues to be weird and interesting, and adds new evidence that early hominin diets were more diverse than we have previously acknowledged

Full Citation:
Henry, AG et al. (2012). The diet of Australopithecus sediba Nature DOI: 10.1038/nature11185

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