Thursday, March 23, 2006

The emergence of Homo and the African "carnivore guild"

This is something that I haven't heard of before and seems to be of great relevance to the emergence of Homo, with its' increased stature and brain size.

Out of Africa 1: Who, where, and when?, by J.J. Shea
Evolutionary Anthropology, Jan/Feb 2006, 15:1-2

Passage of interest:

"There has been a growing consensus in the paleo-anthropological literature that the increases in stature among early Homo erectus fossils over earlier and contemporary hominins reflects an increase in higher-quality food sources in their diets, most likely meat or fat, either scavenged or hunted. Meave Leakey, in her presentation, noted correlated shifts in the African carnivore guild that coincided with the emergence of Homo. The major such shift was a decline among large carnivorans of specialists and an increase in generalists across the Plio-Pleistocene. Increased hominin carnivory, in the context of what was almost certainly a flexible, situationally variable, omnivorous diet may have been a factor in these changes."

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