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Extinct Species of Early Human Survived On Grass Bulbs, Not Meat 318

Philip Ross writes "Fresh analysis of an extinct relative of humans suggests our ancient ancestors dined primarily on tiger nuts, which are edible grass bulbs, settling a discrepancy over what made up prehistoric diets. According to a new study published in the journal PLOS One, the strong-jawed ancient hominin known as Paranthropus boisei, nicknamed 'Nutcracker Man,' which roamed East Africa between 2.4 million and 1.4 million years ago, survived on a diet scientists previously thought implausible."
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Extinct Species of Early Human Survived On Grass Bulbs, Not Meat

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  • by TemperedAlchemist ( 2045966 ) on Sunday January 12, 2014 @10:43AM (#45931773)

    The paleo movement is frustrating for anthropologists. Humans ate pretty much whatever they could get their grubby little hands on: meat, nuts, edible leaves, roots, fruit, etc. We did eat quite a bit of plants, though. Mostly because they didn't run away.

    Vegans who insist we're herbivores are equally frustrating, however.

  • Not an ancestor (Score:5, Informative)

    by Somebody Is Using My ( 985418 ) on Sunday January 12, 2014 @10:58AM (#45931845) Homepage

    A somewhat minor nitpick, but...

    It is generally thought that Paranthropus bosei is an /offshoot/ of the line that ultimately led to modern man, not a direct ancestor. We share ancestors, but do not descend from his line. The two lines diverged about 3 million years ago to follow their own evolutionary paths - homo towards an omnivorous diet and world domination, panthropus to munching on nuts and extinction.

    He was a relative, not an ancestor.

  • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Sunday January 12, 2014 @12:59PM (#45932433) Homepage Journal

    Milk, cheese, and eggs are all animal products. Vegans wouldn't touch them.

  • by stenvar ( 2789879 ) on Sunday January 12, 2014 @01:21PM (#45932577)

    You can get B12 from fermented foods, milk products, eggs, and algae. In fact, it's not even produced by animals, only by bacteria.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 12, 2014 @01:50PM (#45932715)

    B12 is produced by bacteria in fermentation tanks and then ends up in tablets for vegans to eat, and in animal feed for farm animals to eat. The B12 you get from meat comes from the same exact place as the stuff in tablets.

    There are actually no essential nutrients created by animals.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 13, 2014 @02:24AM (#45936879)

    It takes a remarkable amount of calories to run each mile.

    You overestimate how much running takes. Running is only about 40% more calorie burn than walking the same distance. About 150 v. 110 for a 200 lb. man. You also underestimate the amount of calories in lean meat. 1 lb of venison is 540 calories or so. Obviously, it's profitable if you make more than one meal of it, and it's profitable for a small tribe to take turns doing it.

    Here's an example of a person doing it in real life. [] Takes about 8 hours of tracking and periodic chasing.

    Humans are the only primates that can do endurance running. (Not many other kinds of animals can; canines and horses are notable exceptions). As the video above notes, we're one of the few species that sweats for thermoregulation (horses again being a notable exception). We're uniquely well adapted to exploiting heat exhaustion in other species in the part of the world we were thought to have evolved in.

    Hell, humans have ran down cheetahs this way. []

"Let every man teach his son, teach his daughter, that labor is honorable." -- Robert G. Ingersoll