The First Art Newspaper on the Net Established in 1996 United States Thursday, August 21, 2014


Study by Paleontologists Says Ancient Pre-Human 'Nutcracker Man' Really Ate Grass
The casts of two palates demonstrates the large size of the teeth of Paranthropus boisei (left), an early human relative that lived in East Africa between 2.3 million and 1.2 million years ago and is known as Nutcracker Man. Nutcracker man didn't eat nuts after all. After a half-century of referring to an ancient hominin as Nutcracker Man because of his large teeth and powerful jaw, scientists now conclude that Paranthropus boisei actually chewed grasses instead. AP Photo/Melissa Lutz Blouin, University of Arkansas.

By: Randolph E. Schmid, AP Science Writer

WASHINGTON (AP).- Nutcracker Man didn't eat nuts after all. After a half-century of referring to an ancient pre-human as "Nutcracker Man" because of his large teeth and powerful jaw, scientists now conclude that he actually chewed grasses instead.

The study "reminds us that in paleontology, things are not always as they seem," commented Peter S. Ungar, chairman of anthropology at the University of Arkansas.

The new report, by Thure E. Cerling of the University of Utah and colleagues, is published in Tuesday's edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Cerling's team analyzed the carbon in the enamel of 24 teeth from 22 individuals who lived in East Africa between 1.4 million and 1.9 million years ago. One type of carbon is produced from tree leaves, nuts and fruit, another from grasses and grasslike plants called sedges.

It turns out that the early human known as Paranthropus boisei did not eat nuts but dined more heavily on grasses than any other human ancestor or human relative studied to date. Only an extinct species of grass-eating baboon ate more, they said.

"That was not at all what we were expecting," Cerling said in a telephone interview. Scientists will need to rethink the ways our ancient relatives were using resources, he said.

Added co-author Matt Sponheimer of the University of Colorado: "Frankly, we didn't expect to find the primate equivalent of a cow dangling from a remote twig of our family tree."

The skull of Paranthropus was discovered by Mary and Louis Leakey in 1959 at Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania, and helped put the Leakeys on the world stage. Their daughter-in-law, Maeve Leakey, is a co-author of the paper.

Cerling said much of the previous work on Nutcracker Man was based on the size, shape and wear of the teeth. His team analyzed bits of tooth removed with a drill and the results were completely different, Cerling said.

"It stands to reason that other conclusions about other species also will require revisions," he said.

Ungar, who was not part of the research team, suggested in 2007 the possibility that Nutcracker Man human ate grasses, based on tooth wear.

"The big, flat molars, heavily buttressed skull, and large, powerful chewing muscles of Paranthropus boisei scream 'nut cracker,' and that is exactly what this species has been called for more than half a century," he said via email. "But science demands that our interpretations be tested."

With carbon analysis, the researchers take us "one step closer to understanding the diets of these fascinating hominins," Ungar said.

"This is a very important paper ... because people have traditionally felt that the teeth of boisei were incapable of processing foods like grasses," added biology professor Mark Teaford of Johns Hopkins University.

Cerling said it took some convincing to get the tooth samples for drilling from the National Museum of Kenya. "The sound of the drill may make a lot of paleontologists and museum staff cringe," co-author Kevin Uno, a doctoral student at Utah, said in a statement. But "it provides new information that we can't get at any other way."

The study was funded by the National Science Foundation and the University of Colorado.



Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.



Today's News

May 3, 2011

Metropolitan Museum of Art Captures Alexander McQueen's Vision of Imperfect Beauty

Sotheby's Presents Its Spring London Sale of Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art

The Villa Schoningen Presents a Selection of Early Works by Andy Warhol

Hollywood, Fashion Elite Recall Alexander McQueen at Metropolitan's Gala

Collection of Hard Rock Cafe Memorabilia to Tour the United States in Big Rig Truck

Major Works by Renoir and Lievens Bought by Visitor to TEFAF Maastricht 2011

More than 1,000 Year-Old Archaeological Pieces from Palenque Studied and Restored

Yardbirds Guitarist Chris Dreja to Display Historical Photographs at ZepFest, Memorial Day

Painter Joan Mitchell Finally Gets Her Due in New Alfred A. Knopf Book by Patricia Albers

Curator Peter Galassi to Retire From the Museum of Modern Art After 30 Years

Artists Paint Over One Thousand Stark Portraits of Chinese Corrupt and Disgraced Officials

Alyson Baker Named Ninth Director of Connecticut's Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum

Street Art Exhibition at Museum of Contemporary Art Prompts Praise and Concern

Yad Vashem National Holocaust Memorial Starts Collecting Holocaust Items

First Comparative Exhibition of Chaim Soutine and Francis Bacon at Helly Nahmad Gallery

Robust Sales, Attendance at Japanese Art Exhibitions During Asia Week New York 2011

Leigh Anne Lester Wins 2011 Hunting Art Prize

New Orleans, Haiti Share Cultural History at Fest

Anthropology Department Receives $1 Million Gift for Mountain Archaeology Fund

Auction Houses Christie's and Sotheby's Gear Up for New York Art Sales

Study by Paleontologists Says Ancient Pre-Human 'Nutcracker Man' Really Ate Grass

Computer Science and Biology Come Together to Make Tree Identification a Snap

Colonial Williamsburg Showcases Maps and Prints

Zoe Ryan Named Art Institute Chair and John H. Bryan Curator of Architecture and Design

Thomas Schwartz Named New Director of Hoover Library

Most Popular Last Seven Days



1.- Mystery over massive Alexander the Great-era tomb unearthed in northern Greece

2.- An ancient money box containing a large rare hoard of coins found in Israel

3.- Robin Williams' portrait installed today at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington

4.- The Baltimore Museum of Art announces three new contemporary exhibitions in fall

5.- New Aspen Art Museum designed by architect Shigeru Ban opens to the public

6.- New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art launches 82nd & Fifth app in 12 languages

7.- MoMA online-only publication features new research on Pablo Picasso and Cubism

8.- Volunteers needed for massive Smithsonian digitization project

9.- Tate Britain welcomes home John Everett Millais's Ophelia and Rossetti’s The Beloved

10.- Bogart estate: Hollywood golden age icon Lauren Bacall dead at 89 in New York



Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .

 

Founder:
Ignacio Villarreal
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal - Consultant: Ignacio Villarreal Jr.
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Rmz. - Marketing: Carla Gutiérrez
Special Contributor: Liz Gangemi - Special Advisor: Carlos Amador
Contributing Editor: Carolina Farias

Royalville Communications, Inc
produces:

ignaciovillarreal.org theavemaria.org juncodelavega.org facundocabral-elfinal.org
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
Hommage
to a Mexican poet.
Hommage
       

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site