2 June : Scientists have discovered ancient stone tools and cut-marked animal remains in Kenya, which they claim is the first evidence that early humans ate a diverse diet, including fish, crocodiles and turtles.
A new study has revealed that almost two million years ago, early humans began eating aquatic foods like crocodiles, turtles and fish — a diet that could have played an important role in evolution of human brains and footsteps out of Africa.
“This site in Africa is the first evidence that early humans were eating an extremely broad diet,” said Andy Herries of New South Wales University, a member of the international team which carried out the study.
The research represents a collaborative effort with the National Museums of Kenya and is led by David Braun of the University of Cape Town in South Africa and Jack Harris of Rutgers University in the US.
The scientists found evidence of the early humans eating both freshwater fish and land animals at the site in the northern Rift Valley of Kenya.
It is thought that small bodied early Homo would have scavenged the remains of these creatures, rather than hunting for them.
“This find is important because fish in particular has been associated with brain development and it is after this period that we see smaller-brained hominin species evolving into larger-brained Homo species — Homo erectus — the first hominin to leave Africa. A broader diet as suggested by the site’s archaeology may have been the catalyst for brain development and humanity’s first footsteps out of Africa,” said Herries.
The team dated the archaeological remains using palaeomagnetism, a technique that identifies the fossilised direction of the Earth’s magnetic field in sediments, the findings of which are published in the ‘Proceedings of the National Academy of Science’ journal.