role did diet play in the evolution of hominids?
Importance of diet in the evolution of hominids
Introduction and overview prevalent theoretical stance used to explain the early processes of human evolution is that environment and bipedality are seen as primary factors in this process. “Modern theories of evolution consider the environment to be the directive force in the evolutionary process…” (Dobzhansky 122). However, this view is countered by those scholars who see diet as one of the primary and essential aspects in selection and early evolution. A study by Teaford and Ungar (2000), Diet and the evolution of the earliest human ancestors, states that,
Since the discovery of Australopithecus afarensis, many researchers have emphasized the importance of bipedality in scenarios of human origins… Surprisingly, less attention has been focused on the role played by diet in the ecology and evolution of the early hominids (Teaford and Ungar, 2000)
This study and others indicate that there is an increasing interest in the significance of the diets of early hominids in many fields, including paleoenvironmental studies and primatology. An important aspect that has fueled this interest is the fact that new fossil findings from the early Pliocene have raised intriguing questions about the importance of change in diet in the early evolution of the Hominidae. As Teaford and Ungar (2000) state, ” in short, we need to focus not just on how the earliest hominids moved between food patches, but also on what they ate when they got there” (Teaford and Ungar, 2000).
This emphasis on the role of diet in evolution is also related to dentistry studies of fossils. There is a strong indication of a radical change in diet in this area of research. It has been found that early hominids all had, “…small- to moderate-sized incisors; large, flat molars with little shear potential; a ratio of first to third molar area that was low compared with those of extant apes…”(Teaford and Ungar, 2000). As well as this, hominids had thick tooth enamel; and thick mandibular corpora, which suggest, “… A dietary shift at or near the stem of hominid evolution” (Teaford and Ungar, 2000).
A central finding is that the early hominids had the capability of grinding down both hard and soft foods. This has certain important evolutionary outcomes. As Teaford and Ungar, (2000), state,
The early hominids could also have eaten both abrasive and nonabrasive foods. This ability to eat both hard and soft foods, plus abrasive and nonabrasive foods, would have left the early hominids particularly well suited for life in a variety of habitats, ranging from gallery forest to open savanna. (Teaford and Ungar, 2000).
This viewpoint therefore suggests that the variety of diet and the ability to deal with both hard and soft foods allowed for a greater scope in evolutionary selection and a wider choice of selection possibilities. This in turn suggests rather obvious possibilities in terms social structure and the ability to choose various and different habitats instead of being restricted to one single type of habitat.
There are a number of compelling studies that assert that the diet of early hominids could have played a vital role in evolution and the process of selection. There is a certain consensus among many scholars that the hominids began to experiment with harder foods and to change their diet from softer foods. This change had the important result of allowing our earlier ancestors “… The flexibility to cope with short-term and long-term climatic variations and the resultant changes in resource availability” (Teaford and Ungar, 2000).
This view is also echoed in other journal articles. In the article Food for thought: Dietary Change was a Driving Force in Human Evolution by Leonard (2002), the author states that, growing body of evidence indicates that these miscellaneous quirks of humanity in fact have a common thread: they are largely the result of natural selection acting to maximize dietary quality and foraging efficiency. Changes in food availability over time, it seems, strongly in-uenced our hominid ancestors. Thus, in an evolutionary sense, we are very much what we ate. (Leonard 108)
This view is supported by studies of cranial and dental traits of the hominids, which indicate a dramatic change in dietary capabilities between 4 million and 2.3 million years ago. This reiterates the view that diet enabled the hominids to live in a variety of habitats and to adapt to resource availability and to any climate fluctuations that would produce different food possibilities. (Eaton et al., 2002)
This change in diet in hominid development is also stressed in a study by Sponheimer and Lee-Thorp (1999). This study suggests that the change in diet in fact led to an increase in protein rich foods and had an important effect on the evolutionary process. The study suggests that early hominids not only eat fruits and leaves but also carbon-13-enriched foods such as grasses and sedges or animals. This study also asserts that the adaptation to high qaulity foods is seen as possible precursors to development of stone tools and the origin of the genus Homo.
There are many other theoretical views about the effect of diet on the early evolutionary process. For examples, the view that bipedalism was influenced by the adaptation of a posture to obtain foods that had previously been out of reach. (Leonard 109) However, one of the most important aspects of the role of diet in the evolutionary and selection process is the possible way in which diet affected development of the brain.
2. Brain power and diet
There is substantial evidence of the link between increased brain capacity and power and evolution and diet.
Leonard notes that we use a.
A greater share of our daily energy budget to feed our voracious brains. In fact, at rest brain metabolism accounts for a whopping 20 to 25% of an adult human’s energy needs — far more than the 8 to 10% observed in nonhuman primates, and more still than the 3 to 5% allotted to the brain by other mammals.
Leonard also suggests that brain expansion could not have taken place without a diet which was sufficiently rich in calories and nutrients to meet the associated energy costs. (Leonard 111) This of course implies a radial change in diet in the lives of the early hominids – as has already been suggested in other studies discussed above.
This view is also supported by various comparative studies of living animals. “Across all primates, species with bigger brains dine on richer foods, and humans are the extreme example of this correlation, boasting the largest relative brain size and the choicest diet” (Leonard 111).
An important theoretical view in this regard is the Expensive-Tissue Hypotheses. This theory suggests that there is a direct correlation between the size of the brain and the gut. It asserts that the larger the brain the smaller the gut. This theory is based on the finding that, ” Gut size is highly correlated with diet, and relatively small guts are compatible only with high-quality, easy-to-digest food ” (Aiello and Wheeler 199) This leads to the important conclusion that,
No matter what is selecting for relatively large brains in humans and other primates, they cannot be achieved without a shift to a high-quality diet unless there is a rise in the metabolic rate. Therefore the incorporation of increasingly greater amounts of animal products into the diet was essential in the evolution of the large human brain.
Aiello and Wheeler 199)
In other words, the correlation between brain size and gut size suggests a correlation with rich diets that include animal fats. These findings coincide with other findings from dentistry research. Therefore, it seems that diet played a major role in selecting for a large brain and its more powerful functioning.
Another study that adds to the research on the topic of diet and brain size suggests that larger brains have certain metabolic requirements and consequences. This refers to the view the larger the brain the greater will be the overall physical energy budget. Based on this assumption, the large brain has to be supported by a diet that is rich in nutrients. (Leonard et al., 2002)
Another more comprehsive study by Blumenberg et al. (1983) entitled the Evolution of the Advanced Hominid Brain, provides a clear and interesting analysis of the possible linkage between the ingestion of certain types of foods and their concomitant chemical and neurological consequences. This study notes that the eating of meat or the preferential feeding on the livers of carnivores would lead to the ingestion of important nutrients such as calcium. This change in diet could have had a dramatic effect on the size and composition of the brain.
An increase in certain foraging behaviors associated with carnivory would entail elevated exercise levels for those participating. C a L -concentration influences several processes at the synaptic terminal…Such effects on synaptic strength and plasticity may have accelerated the development of various components of learning and memory processes.
Blumenberg et al. 598)
The study concludes that, “These few observations provide a fascinating window into the way in which new dietary regimes can affect neurotransmitter synthesis and thereby influence broad-based activity patterns in the brain” (Blumenberg et al. 598).
There are many theories about the way that diet affected evolutionary selection in hominids. There is little doubt that diet played a significant role and that brain size is related to a radical change of diet in the distant past. However, what scholars are also at pains to point out is that diet should be seen in conjunction with and in relation to other factors, such as social structure. As Spuhler (1959) states,
The change to a partially carnivorous diet had extremely broad implications for the social organization of early hominoids” (Diet, Evolution, and Culture). Diet and other factors should be considered in the intricate and immensely complex task of attempting to understand our origins through the evolutionary selection process of hominids.
Dobzhansky, Theodosius. Evolution, Genetics, and Man. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1955.
Aiello L. And Wheeler P. The Expensive-Tissue Hypothesis: the Brain and the Digestive System in Human and Primate Evolution. Current Anthropology, Vol. 36, No. 2. (Apr., 1995), pp. 199-221. December 2, 2007. http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0011-3204%28199504%2936%3A2%3C199%3ATEHTBA%3E2.0.CO%3B2-9
Blumenberg B. et al., the Evolution of the Advanced Hominid Brain
Current Anthropology, Vol. 24, No. 5. (Dec., 1983), pp. 589-623. December 1, 2007. http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0011-3204%28198312%2924%3A5%3C589%3ATEOTAH%3E2.0.CO%3B2-W
Diet, Evolution, and Culture. December 1, 2007. http://www.beyondveg.com/billings-t/comp-anat/comp-anat-3c.shtml
Eaton, S. Boyd, Stanley B. Eaton, and Loren Cordain. “Chapter 2 Evolution, Diet, and Health.” Human Diet: Its Origin and Evolution. Ed. Peter S. Ungar and Mark F. Teaford. Westport, CT: Bergin and Garvey, 2002. 7-17.
Howells, William. Mankind in the Making: The Story of Human Evolution. Revised ed. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1967..
Leonard W. Food for thought: Dietary Change was a Driving Force in Human
Evolution. SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN. 2002.
Leonard W. Robertson M. Snodgrass J. And Kuzawa C. Metabolic correlates of hominid brain evolution. Laboratory for Human Biology Research, Department of Anthropology, Northwestern University. http://web.ebscohost.com.libproxy2.usouthal.edu/ehost/detail?vid=5&hid=117&sid=99f5dc9d-c950-4b64-aef1-807528e43f21%40sessionmgr8
Sponheimer M. And Lee-Thorp J. Isotopic Evidence for the Diet of an Early Hominid, Australopithecus africanus. Science 15 January 1999: Vol. 283. no. 5400, pp. 368-370. November 30, 2007. http://www.sciencemag.org.libproxy2.usouthal.edu/cgi/content/full/283/5400/368?maxtoshow=&HITS=10&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&fulltext=Diet+hominids&searchid=1&FIRSTINDEX=0&resourcetype=HWCIT
Teaford M. And Ungar P. Diet and the evolution of the earliest human ancestors PNAS, December 5, 2000, vol. 97, no. 25. November 30, 2007. http://www.pnas.org.libproxy2.usouthal.edu/cgi/content/full/97/25/13506 www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=101313742
Ungar, Peter S., and Mark F. Teaford, eds. Human Diet: Its Origin and Evolution. Westport, CT: Bergin and Garvey, 2002.
Diet in the evolution of hominids
Are you busy and do not have time to handle your assignment? Are you scared that your paper will not make the grade? Do you have responsibilities that may hinder you from turning in your assignment on time? Are you tired and can barely handle your assignment? Are your grades inconsistent?
Whichever your reason is, it is valid! You can get professional academic help from our service at affordable rates. We have a team of professional academic writers who can handle all your assignments.
Students barely have time to read. We got you! Have your literature essay or book review written without having the hassle of reading the book. You can get your literature paper custom-written for you by our literature specialists.
Do you struggle with finance? No need to torture yourself if finance is not your cup of tea. You can order your finance paper from our academic writing service and get 100% original work from competent finance experts.
While psychology may be an interesting subject, you may lack sufficient time to handle your assignments. Don’t despair; by using our academic writing service, you can be assured of perfect grades. Moreover, your grades will be consistent.
Engineering is quite a demanding subject. Students face a lot of pressure and barely have enough time to do what they love to do. Our academic writing service got you covered! Our engineering specialists follow the paper instructions and ensure timely delivery of the paper.
In the nursing course, you may have difficulties with literature reviews, annotated bibliographies, critical essays, and other assignments. Our nursing assignment writers will offer you professional nursing paper help at low prices.
Truth be told, sociology papers can be quite exhausting. Our academic writing service relieves you of fatigue, pressure, and stress. You can relax and have peace of mind as our academic writers handle your sociology assignment.
We take pride in having some of the best business writers in the industry. Our business writers have a lot of experience in the field. They are reliable, and you can be assured of a high-grade paper. They are able to handle business papers of any subject, length, deadline, and difficulty!
We boast of having some of the most experienced statistics experts in the industry. Our statistics experts have diverse skills, expertise, and knowledge to handle any kind of assignment. They have access to all kinds of software to get your assignment done.
Writing a law essay may prove to be an insurmountable obstacle, especially when you need to know the peculiarities of the legislative framework. Take advantage of our top-notch law specialists and get superb grades and 100% satisfaction.
We have highlighted some of the most popular subjects we handle above. Those are just a tip of the iceberg. We deal in all academic disciplines since our writers are as diverse. They have been drawn from across all disciplines, and orders are assigned to those writers believed to be the best in the field. In a nutshell, there is no task we cannot handle; all you need to do is place your order with us. As long as your instructions are clear, just trust we shall deliver irrespective of the discipline.
Our essay writers are graduates with bachelor's, masters, Ph.D., and doctorate degrees in various subjects. The minimum requirement to be an essay writer with our essay writing service is to have a college degree. All our academic writers have a minimum of two years of academic writing. We have a stringent recruitment process to ensure that we get only the most competent essay writers in the industry. We also ensure that the writers are handsomely compensated for their value. The majority of our writers are native English speakers. As such, the fluency of language and grammar is impeccable.
There is a very low likelihood that you won’t like the paper.
Not at all. All papers are written from scratch. There is no way your tutor or instructor will realize that you did not write the paper yourself. In fact, we recommend using our assignment help services for consistent results.
We check all papers for plagiarism before we submit them. We use powerful plagiarism checking software such as SafeAssign, LopesWrite, and Turnitin. We also upload the plagiarism report so that you can review it. We understand that plagiarism is academic suicide. We would not take the risk of submitting plagiarized work and jeopardize your academic journey. Furthermore, we do not sell or use prewritten papers, and each paper is written from scratch.
You determine when you get the paper by setting the deadline when placing the order. All papers are delivered within the deadline. We are well aware that we operate in a time-sensitive industry. As such, we have laid out strategies to ensure that the client receives the paper on time and they never miss the deadline. We understand that papers that are submitted late have some points deducted. We do not want you to miss any points due to late submission. We work on beating deadlines by huge margins in order to ensure that you have ample time to review the paper before you submit it.
We have a privacy and confidentiality policy that guides our work. We NEVER share any customer information with third parties. Noone will ever know that you used our assignment help services. It’s only between you and us. We are bound by our policies to protect the customer’s identity and information. All your information, such as your names, phone number, email, order information, and so on, are protected. We have robust security systems that ensure that your data is protected. Hacking our systems is close to impossible, and it has never happened.
You fill all the paper instructions in the order form. Make sure you include all the helpful materials so that our academic writers can deliver the perfect paper. It will also help to eliminate unnecessary revisions.
Proceed to pay for the paper so that it can be assigned to one of our expert academic writers. The paper subject is matched with the writer’s area of specialization.
You communicate with the writer and know about the progress of the paper. The client can ask the writer for drafts of the paper. The client can upload extra material and include additional instructions from the lecturer. Receive a paper.
The paper is sent to your email and uploaded to your personal account. You also get a plagiarism report attached to your paper.
PLACE THIS ORDER OR A SIMILAR ORDER WITH US TODAY!!!
We provide professional writing services to help you score straight A’s by submitting custom written assignments that mirror your guidelines.
Get result-oriented writing and never worry about grades anymore. We follow the highest quality standards to make sure that you get perfect assignments.
Our writers have experience in dealing with papers of every educational level. You can surely rely on the expertise of our qualified professionals.
Your deadline is our threshold for success and we take it very seriously. We make sure you receive your papers before your predefined time.
Someone from our customer support team is always here to respond to your questions. So, hit us up if you have got any ambiguity or concern.
Sit back and relax while we help you out with writing your papers. We have an ultimate policy for keeping your personal and order-related details a secret.
We assure you that your document will be thoroughly checked for plagiarism and grammatical errors as we use highly authentic and licit sources.
Still reluctant about placing an order? Our 100% Moneyback Guarantee backs you up on rare occasions where you aren’t satisfied with the writing.
You don’t have to wait for an update for hours; you can track the progress of your order any time you want. We share the status after each step.
Although you can leverage our expertise for any writing task, we have a knack for creating flawless papers for the following document types.
Although you can leverage our expertise for any writing task, we have a knack for creating flawless papers for the following document types.
From brainstorming your paper's outline to perfecting its grammar, we perform every step carefully to make your paper worthy of A grade.
Hire your preferred writer anytime. Simply specify if you want your preferred expert to write your paper and we’ll make that happen.
Get an elaborate and authentic grammar check report with your work to have the grammar goodness sealed in your document.
You can purchase this feature if you want our writers to sum up your paper in the form of a concise and well-articulated summary.
You don’t have to worry about plagiarism anymore. Get a plagiarism report to certify the uniqueness of your work.
Join us for the best experience while seeking writing assistance in your college life. A good grade is all you need to boost up your academic excellence and we are all about it.
We create perfect papers according to the guidelines.
We seamlessly edit out errors from your papers.
We thoroughly read your final draft to identify errors.
Work with ultimate peace of mind because we ensure that your academic work is our responsibility and your grades are a top concern for us!
Dedication. Quality. Commitment. Punctuality
Here is what we have achieved so far. These numbers are evidence that we go the extra mile to make your college journey successful.
We have the most intuitive and minimalistic process so that you can easily place an order. Just follow a few steps to unlock success.
We understand your guidelines first before delivering any writing service. You can discuss your writing needs and we will have them evaluated by our dedicated team.
We write your papers in a standardized way. We complete your work in such a way that it turns out to be a perfect description of your guidelines.
We promise you excellent grades and academic excellence that you always longed for. Our writers stay in touch with you via email.