What Early Humans Ate, and What It Means for Us

Staff Writer
A new study suggests that our ancestors ate a lot of grass

And now, a bit of history for your Tuesday.

A new collection of studies led by the University of Utah has suggested that early humans ate very different food from what was previously thought. Beginning around 3.5 million years ago, a shift is now suspected from a diet of leaves and fruits, more like that of apes, to one including more tropical grasses and sedges.

The findings, as the University of Utah reports, were obtained through what is known as the isotope method, which involves analysis of fossilized tooth enamel from prehistoric remains. In general, it’s being suggested that, at some points, hominids decided to expand their diet on savannahs with the kinds of grasses that animals had already been grazing on for a long time, though it’s still unknown why it happened then.

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So why should today’s thinking man care? Those involved with the study have advanced the idea that this dietary change contributed to the further evolution of the genus Homo, including brain growth and upright walking, eventually leading up to the emergence of Homo sapiens. Likely, eating more grasses contributed to the historical trend over time that has led to the omnivorous diet we and many other animals enjoy today.