Early Human Ancestors Ate Grass
Early human ancestors in central Africa 3.5 million years ago ate a diet of mostly tropical grasses and sedges, finds new research. The study suggests our relatives were mostly plant-eaters before they evolved a taste for meaty flesh. The study focused on Australopithecus bahrelghazali, which had quite a set of teeth.
“No African great apes, including chimpanzees, eat this type of food despite the fact it grows in abundance in tropical and subtropical regions,” co-author Julia Lee-Thorp, a University of Oxford archaeologist, said in a press release. “The only notable exception is the savannah baboon which still forages for these types of plants today. We were surprised to discover that early hominins appear to have consumed more than even the baboons.”
This indicates our long-gone relatives experienced a shift in their diet relatively early, at least in central Africa. These individuals survived in open landscapes with few trees, so apparently they could exploit not only dense woodland areas but also other environments.