Early hominin diet included diverse terrestrial and aquatic animals 1.95 Ma in East Turkana, Kenya Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • The manufacture of stone tools and their use to access animal tissues by Pliocene hominins marks the origin of a key adaptation in human evolutionary history. Here we report an in situ archaeological assemblage from the Koobi Fora Formation in northern Kenya that provides a unique combination of faunal remains, some with direct evidence of butchery, and Oldowan artifacts, which are well dated to 1.95 Ma. This site provides the oldest in situ evidence that hominins, predating Homo erectus, enjoyed access to carcasses of terrestrial and aquatic animals that they butchered in a well-watered habitat. It also provides the earliest definitive evidence of the incorporation into the hominin diet of various aquatic animals including turtles, crocodiles, and fish, which are rich sources of specific nutrients needed in human brain growth. The evidence here shows that these critical brain-growth compounds were part of the diets of hominins before the appearance of Homo ergaster/erectus and could have played an important role in the evolution of larger brains in the early history of our lineage.

authors

  • Braun, DR
  • Harris, JWK
  • Levin, NE
  • McCoy, JT
  • Herries, AIR
  • Bamford, MK
  • Bishop, LC
  • Richmond, BG
  • Kibunjia, M

publication date

  • June 1, 2010