Document Detail


The isotopic ecology of African mole rats informs hypotheses on the evolution of human diet.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  17472915     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
Abstract/OtherAbstract:
The diets of Australopithecus africanus and Paranthropus robustus are hypothesized to have included C4 plants, such as tropical grasses and sedges, or the tissues of animals which themselves consumed C4 plants. Yet inferences based on the craniodental morphology of A. africanus and P. robustus indicate a seasonal diet governed by hard, brittle foods. Such mechanical characteristics are incompatible with a diet of grasses or uncooked meat, which are too tough for efficient mastication by flat, low-cusped molars. This discrepancy, termed the C4 conundrum, has led to the speculation that C4 plant underground storage organs (USOs) were a source of nutrition for hominin species. We test this hypothesis by examining the isotopic ecology of African mole rats, which consume USOs extensively. We measured delta18O and delta13C of enamel and bone apatite from fossil and modern species distributed across a range of habitats. We show that delta18O values vary little and that delta13C values vary along the C3 to C4/CAM-vegetative axis. Relatively high delta13C values exist in modern Cryptomys hottentotus natalensis and Cryptomys spp. recovered from hominin-bearing deposits. These values overlap those reported for A. africanus and P. robustus and we conclude that the USO hypothesis for hominin diets retains certain plausibility.
Authors:
Justin D Yeakel; Nigel C Bennett; Paul L Koch; Nathaniel J Dominy
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Comparative Study; Journal Article; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't; Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society     Volume:  274     ISSN:  0962-8452     ISO Abbreviation:  Proc. Biol. Sci.     Publication Date:  2007 Jul 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2007-06-08     Completed Date:  2008-03-06     Revised Date:  2013-06-06    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  101245157     Medline TA:  Proc Biol Sci     Country:  England    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  1723-30     Citation Subset:  IM    
Affiliation:
Department of Anthropology, University of California, 1156 High Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95064, USA. jyeakel@pmc.ucsc.edu
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MeSH Terms
Descriptor/Qualifier:
Animals
Bone and Bones / chemistry*
Carbon Isotopes / analysis
Diet*
Ecosystem*
Hominidae / physiology
Humans
Mass Spectrometry
Mole Rats / physiology*
Oxygen Isotopes / analysis
Plants / chemistry
South Africa
Species Specificity
Statistics, Nonparametric
Tooth / chemistry*
Chemical
Reg. No./Substance:
0/Carbon Isotopes; 0/Oxygen Isotopes
Comments/Corrections

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