Tooth wear patterns suggest Paranthropus early hominins had softer diets than expected
Analysis of wear patterns on fossil teeth from East African hominins suggests the diets of Paranthropus aethiopicus and Paranthropus boisei were softer than had been thought, according to a study published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Laura Monica Martinez from Universitat de Barcelona, Spain, and colleagues.
|Wear patterns on the fossil teeth from East African hominims, including the Paranthropus boisei (pictured), |
suggest that they may have eaten softer food than previously thought [Credit: WikiCommons]
Previous isotopic analysis has supported the theory that while H. ergaster, which had relatively small jaws and teeth, consumed a lot of meat, Paranthropus species, which had massive lower jaws and molars with large chewing surfaces, may have specialized to eat a high proportion of fibrous, abrasive C4 plants.
|Paranthropus boisei was a long-lived species of archaic hominin that first evolved in East Africa |
about 2.3 million years ago [Credit: Reuters]
The researchers found that, contrary to the previous isotopic evidence, the scratch patterns on cheek surfaces of P. aethiopicus and P. boisei teeth suggested that their dietary habits 'did not involve chewing significant amounts of abrasive foods'.
This study provides valuable additional evidence concerning the evolution and composition of the diets of Paranthropus and Homo species over time.
Source: PLOS [November 16, 2016]