Sunday, June 7, 2009

Hominin diets could reveal a lot about our own

Just in case anyone's interested, I had the great opportunity to discuss nutrition science today with none other than Lucy discoverer Donald Johanson. What luck!

After explaining to Johanson of studying "evolutionary discordance" of diet post-agricultural revolution, he pointed me in the direction of a book related to hominin diets based on studies of hominin teeth.

This revelation led me to have a great interest in what further studies could be put together. I imagine randomized, controlled trials involving diets of humans on pre-human diets. Not only could the data help us better understand certain adaptions in our own digestive systems, but also what possible other "evolutionary discordances" that may have occured during a time when humans actually became human.

At the same event I spoke to another evolutionary biologist who suggested that fire had a key role in allowing our digestive system to adapt to a higher-energy diet.

The book recommended by Don Johanson was by Peter Ungar. A link to an article on the subject of diet and hominin teeth is found here.