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Thread: University of the Witwatersrand: Australopithecus diet

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  1. #1
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    University of the Witwatersrand: Australopithecus diet

    The latest research sheds more light on the diet and home ranges of early hominins belonging to three different genera, notably Australopithecus, Paranthropus and Homo that were discovered at sites such as Sterkfontein, Swartkrans and Kromdraai in the Cradle of Humankind, about 50 kilometres from Johannesburg. Australopithecus existed before the other two genera evolved about 2 million years ago.
    Interestingly

    The scientists conducted an analysis of the fossil teeth, indicating that Australopithecus, a predecessor of early Homo, had a more varied diet than early Homo. Its diet was also more variable than the diet of another distant human relative known as Paranthropus.
    But that's not necessarily a bad thing ...

    According to Thackeray, the results of the study show that Paranthropus had a primarily herbivorous-like diet, while Homo included a greater consumption of meat. ...

    Thackeray states that the greater consumption of meat in the diet of early forms of Homo could have contributed to the increase in brain size in this genus.
    Early human ancestors had more variable diet

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    And, according to one bit of research, ancient modern man had brains 110% the size of ours.
    Why use a sledge hammer to crack a nut when a steam roller is even more effective, and, is fun to drive.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nigel View Post
    And, according to one bit of research, ancient modern man had brains 110% the size of ours.
    Yeah, but size isn't everything. ;-)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lewis View Post
    Yeah, but size isn't everything. ;-)
    When scientists say that our brains are becoming more efficient they're just comforting themselves. There is no possible way that they could actually know that we've maintained brain function while decreasing energy expenditure. It's far more likely that the lack of essential fatty acids in the diet (the agricultural revolution likely being the culprit) has resulted in an inability to properly grow the brain to it's full potential. Kind of like how people got shorter.

    I'd be interested in seeing whether a kid raised on paleo/primal foods would have that bigger brain.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alex Good View Post
    When scientists say that our brains are becoming more efficient they're just comforting themselves. There is no possible way that they could actually know that we've maintained brain function while decreasing energy expenditure. It's far more likely that the lack of essential fatty acids in the diet (the agricultural revolution likely being the culprit) has resulted in an inability to properly grow the brain to it's full potential. Kind of like how people got shorter.

    I'd be interested in seeing whether a kid raised on paleo/primal foods would have that bigger brain.

    I would think that the kid's mother would also have to eat that way, from conception onwards...
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    Quote Originally Posted by jojohaligo View Post
    I would think that the kid's mother would also have to eat that way, from conception onwards...
    I guess when you consider the fact that epigenetic changes can persist for several generations the kid's grandparents should eat properly as well for the study to be valid.
    In all of the universe there is only one person with your exact charateristics. Just like there is only one person with everybody else's characteristics. Effectively, your uniqueness makes you pretty average.

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    Oh come on, that's not a real place.
    In all of the universe there is only one person with your exact charateristics. Just like there is only one person with everybody else's characteristics. Effectively, your uniqueness makes you pretty average.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alex Good View Post
    Oh come on, that's not a real place.
    Witwatersrand? It means "white water's edge" in Afrikaans, and it doesn't sound like all that strange of a name, having seen some doozies.

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    Umm, actually it is a real place - it is one of the biggest universities in South Africa - I can attest to it's 'reality' as I used to drive past it every day to work! See this link http://www.wits.ac.za

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    It was intended as a joke.

    But I do doubt there's a simple one-to-one correspondence between brain size and intelligence. It's not as if one could pick the largest individual in a room and be assured that he was the smartest. Some highly culturally significant people -- for example, Edward Gibbon, Gilbert White, Gustave Mahler -- were small, and presumably had brains sized in proportion. Women also tend to be smaller than men and with smaller brains, but they're hardly less intelligent on average. In fact, they currently seem more academically successful than men in modern industrialized countries, although one assumes there are social reasons for that.

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