New research challenges existing suggestions that early human ancestors lived on hard foods including tree bark, fruit, leaves and other plant products.
The study examined a computer-based model of an Australopithecus sediba (A. sediba) skull based on a fossil skull discovered eight years ago in South Africa. The findings suggested that the A. sediba, a diminutive pre-human species that lived two million years ago, didn’t have the jaw and tooth structure necessary to exist on a steady diet of hard foods.
A. sediba has been heralded as a possible ancestor or close relative of Homo, the group to which our species belongs. The new study does not directly address whether A. sediba is indeed a close evolutionary relative of early Homo, but it does provide further evidence that dietary changes were shaping the evolutionary paths of early humans.
“Modern humans also have this limitation on biting forcefully and we suspect that early Homo had it as well, yet the other A. sediba that we have examined are not nearly as limited in this regard,” lead author and researcher, Dr Justin Ledogar said.
The findings from this study show that while some A. sediba populations were evolving adaptations to maximize their ability to bite powerfully, others (including A. sediba) were evolving in opposite directions, with one lineage leading to our genus.
Read more here: University of New England.