Archaeology / Cultural Heritage / History

[Archaeology] [twocolumns]

Anthropology / Human Evolution / Linguistics

[Anthropology] [twocolumns]

Palaeontology / Palaeoclimate / Earth Sciences

[Palaeontology] [twocolumns]

Evolution / Genetics / Biology

[Evolution][twocolumns]

Earliest evidence of the cooking and eating of starch found in South Africa


New research published in the Journal of Human Evolution provides the earliest archaeological evidence that anatomically modern humans were roasting and eating plant starches as early as 120,000 years ago.

Earliest evidence of the cooking and eating of starch found in South Africa
Charred food remains from hearths in Klasies River Caves, South Africa
[Credit: C. Larbey]


Lead author Cynthia Larbey of the Department of Archaeology at the University of Cambridge says, “Our findings provide the archaeological evidence that has previously been lacking to support the hypothesis that the duplication of the starch digestion genes is an adaptive response to an increased starch diet.”

Earliest evidence of the cooking and eating of starch found in South Africa
Organic tissues and substances from the upper hearth in Klasies River Caves, South Africa,
under reflected and UV light [Credit: C. Larbey]


“This is very exciting. The genetic and biological evidence previously suggested that early humans would have been eating starches, but this research had not been done before. So, at Klasies River we took a team approach, firstly to find and analyse undisturbed hearths and secondly, to take botanical samples from those hearths and compare findings.”

Earliest evidence of the cooking and eating of starch found in South Africa
Researcher Cynthia Larbey walks to the mouth of one of the Klasies River Caves,
South Africa, 2015 [Credit: C. Larbey]


Klasies River is a very famous early human occupation site on the Cape coast of South Africa. In these caves, co-author Susan Mentzer of Eberhard Karls Universitӓt Tübingen and the University of Arizona, identified small (c. 30cm in diameter) hearths.

Earliest evidence of the cooking and eating of starch found in South Africa
Left: The main cave site at Klasies River, South Africa; Right: Main site plan showing sample locations
[Credit: C. Larbey & D. Redhouse]


“The results show these small ashy hearths were used for cooking food and starchy roots and tubers were clearly part of their diet, both from the earliest levels at around 120,000 years ago through to 65,000 years ago. So, despite changes in hunting strategies and stone tool technologies, they are still cooking roots and tubers.”

Earliest evidence of the cooking and eating of starch found in South Africa
Map showing location of Klasies Cave, South Africa [Credit: C. Larbey & D. Redhouse]
The wider implications of this new research include a glimpse into early human migration. The ability to use cooked roots and tubers as a staple provided greater adaptability for humans to colonise new regions of the world.

Larbey adds, “Starch diet isn’t something that happens when we start farming, but rather, is as old as humans themselves.”

Source: University of Cambridge [April 24, 2019]

TANN

Post A Comment
  • Blogger Comment using Blogger
  • Facebook Comment using Facebook
  • Disqus Comment using Disqus

No comments :


Exhibitions / Travel

[Exhibitions] [bsummary]

Natural Heritage / Environment / Wildlife

[Natural Heritage] [list]

Astronomy / Astrobiology / Space Exploration

[Universe] [list]