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Wed Jun 27, 2012, 02:46 PM

So much for the Paleo diet...

not the main point of the article, but that's what I got out of it...

Prehuman Species Preferred Forest Foods, Fossil Teeth Suggest
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/28/science/australopithecus-sediba-preferred-forest-foods-fossil-teeth-suggest.html?_r=1&smid=tw-nytimes&seid=auto

Almost two million years after their last meals, two members of a prehuman species in southern Africa left traces in their teeth of what they had eaten then, as well as over a lifetime of foraging. Scientists were surprised to find that these hominins apparently lived almost exclusively on a diet of leaves, fruits, wood and bark.

snip

The dietary pattern of the enigmatic species, Australopithecus sediba, discovered four years ago in the Malapa caves northwest of Johannesburg, was unexpected for several reasons. It contrasted sharply with available data for other hominins in the region and elsewhere in Africa; they mainly consumed grasses and sedges from the savanna.

snip

“One thing people probably don’t realize is that humans are basically grass eaters,” Dr. Passey said in a statement. “We eat grass in the form of the grains we use to make breads, noodles, cereals and beers, and we eat animals that eat grass. So when did our addiction to grass begin? At what point in our evolutionary history did we start making use of grasses? We are simply trying to find out where in the human chain that begins.”

11 replies, 1935 views

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Response to Viva_La_Revolution (Original post)

Wed Jun 27, 2012, 02:49 PM

1. now i want a baguette...and some slices of jamon. nt nt

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Response to Viva_La_Revolution (Original post)

Wed Jun 27, 2012, 02:54 PM

2. One of the problems with dental microwear analysis is that

the teeth record what was eaten in the last few days. What this means is that we can tell what those particular individuals were eating before they died. There is marked seasonality in diets of chimps for example and significant differences in diet between chimps in different areas. What this means is that we should probably avoid generalizing about the diet of A. sediba or any other fossil hominim.

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Response to mysuzuki2 (Reply #2)

Wed Jun 27, 2012, 03:48 PM

6. Not only that, but they might have died of starvation

which explains why they were eating wood.

Coprolith analysis is a little more reliable, since some of it can be assumed to have come from more robust people, not those near death. What little I've managed to read on the subject suggests that the paleo diet was anything that didn't poison them and much that did, including insects, grubs, leaves, grasses, bark (likely for the sweet sap on the surface), and any seeds they could find in fruit or topping grasses or in pods. Most of the diet was vegetable and most of it was high bulk, low nutritional value stuff.

They were regular, if nothing else. They also mostly died by the age of 40.

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Response to Warpy (Reply #6)

Wed Jun 27, 2012, 05:00 PM

11. Wouldn't it be nice if we had some australopithecine poop!

You are right about them eating almost anything, I think. One of the most interesting things about prople and our bio-cultural evolution is that we have found ways to process foods before eating in such a way as to make them edible. Manioc and acorns for example cannot generally be eaten w/o fairly extensive processing. I think this sort of behavior may have begun fairly early in our evolutionary history.

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Response to Viva_La_Revolution (Original post)

Wed Jun 27, 2012, 02:54 PM

3. "and the Irish dead lying dead on the side of the road with grass stains 'round their mouths."

An eerie story from Grandmom Murphy educating us on the "troubles."..

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Response to Viva_La_Revolution (Original post)

Wed Jun 27, 2012, 03:07 PM

4. I can't find good bark at the supermarket. n/t

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Response to PoliticAverse (Reply #4)

Wed Jun 27, 2012, 03:23 PM

5. No, you can!

 

Look for that (delicious) Chocolate Bark.

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Response to PoliticAverse (Reply #4)

Wed Jun 27, 2012, 04:21 PM

9. Cinnamon.

And it even comes ground up for those with dentures.

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Response to Viva_La_Revolution (Original post)

Wed Jun 27, 2012, 03:58 PM

7. The domestication of grains is well explained in the book "Guns, Germs and Steel".

And there is a load of difference between grains harvested and used with minimal processing, as opposed to the whole-scale extraction of nutrients that is done to grains today.

And if one is to consider the use of grains - i.e. domestication of grains - that goes hand-in-hand in the domestication of cattle, sheep, etc.

There were some groups of people at that time that relied more on meat than grains, and others more on grains than meat.

The Masai for example live largely on the products of their cattle.

The life of the Masai tribe revolve around cattle. Virtually all social roles and status derive from the relationship of individuals to their cattle. The more cattle one has the higher their status in life. Cow's milk, together with blood, is the staple food of the Masai. Grain and fruit are rare in their diet. Young men are responsible for tending to the herds and often live in small camps, moving frequently in the constant search for water and good grazing lands. Maasai are ruthless capitalists and due to past behavior have become notorious as cattle rustlers. At one time young Maasai warriors set off in groups with the express purpose of acquiring illegal cattle. They believe they have a God given right to own cattle and can possess (steal) without considering it a crime.


I would say the Masai are healthier than the average modern day US grain-consumers.

So, it is not a case of there goes the paleo diet. Different cultures eat different foods, some with minimal grain, and some not. You takes your choice.

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Response to Viva_La_Revolution (Original post)

Wed Jun 27, 2012, 04:13 PM

8. Genetic analysis finds that modern humans evolved from southern Africa's Bushmen

March 9, 2011 By Lisa M. Krieger
A team of Stanford University scientists, using the largest-ever genetic analysis of remote tribal people, have determined that the human family tree is rooted in one of the world's most marginal and primitive people - the Bushmen of southern Africa.

But Feldman, who led the team with geneticist Brenna Henn, went on to say, "But they are total geniuses in the bush." Further, he explained, "over tens of thousands of years, we lost the skills they have, that they teach their children. We developed a totally different set of values - with evolution through agriculture - that bypassed these people."

http://phys.org/news/2011-03-genetic-analysis-modern-humans-evolved.html

Here is the diet of the Bushmen:

Villages range in sturdiness from nightly rain shelters in the warm spring (when people move constantly in search of budding greens), to formalized rings, wherein people congregate in the dry season around permanent waterholes. Early spring is the hardest season: a hot dry period following the cool, dry winter. Most plants are still dead or dormant, and supplies of autumn nuts are exhausted. Meat is particularly important in the dry months when wildlife can't range far from the receding waters.

Bushmen women gather fruit, berries, tubers, bush onions, and other plant materials for the band's consumption. The eggs of ostriches are gathered, and the empty shells are used as water containers. In addition to plants, insects furnish perhaps ten percent of animal proteins consumed, most often during the dry season. Depending on location, the Bushmen consume 18 to 104 species including grasshoppers, beetles, caterpillars, moths, butterflies, and termites.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bushmen



So by that logic, we today, who are descended from Bushmen should be eating their kinds of foods. Yet, the last paragraph of the article cited, states that humans are grass eaters based on ONE line of hominins who lived even earlier. Puhleeze.

Btw, today's chimps are omnivores.



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Response to tabatha (Reply #8)

Wed Jun 27, 2012, 04:36 PM

10. It's an issue of nomenclature.

It's the difference between

Proto-humans
||

Bushmen

|| ||

Bushmen others

and

Proto-humans

|| ||

Bushmen others

It'll come down to how you define "Bushmen" historically. It's like saying Friesian is descended from Dutch. If you define the dialect area before they diverged as "Dutch," sure; if you give it a different name--after all, it wasn't modern Dutch and the dialect was as Friesian as it was Dutch--then it wasn't.

As soon as you start talking culture, though, I always think the definition's being blurred because a researcher has decided to either advocate or blue-sky.

Some linguists have tried to allow the claim that the typologically odd Khoei-san phonological systems are somehow evidence of great time depth for the group as a specific group. But linguistic systems can change quickly, esp. in isolation. There's also a possible counterclaim: You get lots of genetic diversity (and linguistic diversity) not just where a stable population has been allowed to diversify over a long time period but also where a lot of populations are forced together. The Bushmen have essentially been the victim of a millennial campaign of genocide by Bantu-speakers and are left not where they're most comfortable but where the Bantu-speakers let them be.

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