Human Evolutionary Tree – The Mystery of the Bark

Last century has witnessed huge modifications in the diet of modern humans. Advances in Nutritional sciences and the expansion of food industry have made our foods more nutritious, palatable and tasty. The hunter gatherers of tropical forests, however, consume a very large variety of plant foods compared to that of the modern urban dwellers. To a large extent, the hunter gatherer tribes share a common diet to that of the human ancestors of the past. Recently, National Geographic Daily News reported a new perspective in the diet of human ancestors. The latest finds of Australopithecus sedibas which lived about two million years before present had shown plant tissue and bark of the trees embedded in their fossilized teeth. The male and female specimens, whose teeth were discovered from a South African cave in 2008, had nicely preserved teeth along with bark. On the basis of the wood present in the fossilized teeth, the scientists had identified the diet ofAustralopithecus sedibas as consisting of fruits, leaves and bark. It has also been said that these human ancestors lived in woodland environments and had eating habits similar to those of chimpanzees and gorillas. Studies reveal that this creature was definitely a bipedal one which can be described as part ape and part human. Homo erectus which lived around 1.8 million years before present, might also have adapted itself to all variety of plant foods available, however, this seems to be a highly speculative idea. These issues are likely to open new visas in human evolutionary research.

Professor S. P. Singh, Ph.D.
Editor-in-Chief, Human Biology Review
Former Dean, Faculty of Life Sciences,
Punjabi University, Patiala, India

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