Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Human ancestors: more gatherers than hunters?
Chimpanzees crave roots and tubers even when food is plentiful above ground, according to a new study that raises questions about the relative importance of meat for brain evolution.

Appearing online the week of Nov. 12 in the early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study documents a novel use of tools by chimps to dig for tubers and roots in the savanna woodlands of western Tanzania.

The chimps' eagerness for buried treats offers new insights in an ongoing debate about the role of meat versus potato-like foods in the diet of our hominid ancestors, said first author Adriana Hernandez-Aguilar, who collected the field data for her doctoral research at the University of Southern California.

I'm not particularly comfortable using chimps as surrogates for early hominids.