Chipped teeth suggests Homo naledi had a unique diet

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There was a lot of excitement when scientists reported the discovery of an entirely new hominin species, Homo naledi, in 2015. Since then, we are gradually learning more about them. For example, earlier this year, researchers found that they lived sometime between 335,000 and 236,000 years ago.

Ian Towle, PhD candidate in biological anthropology, and  colleagues at LJMU  have reported among the first evidence on the diet and behaviour of this fascinating new addition to the human family tree. Our research, published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, suggests they probably ate a substantially different diet from other South African hominins. The young age of Homo naledi suggests they may have shared their environment with humans, raising an intriguing discussion about the ecological niche they would have filled. The preservation of their skeletons is also interesting – the research team that first described it concluded they may have deliberately placed their dead in the cave.

In their research, they examined the jaws and teeth of this species, recording more dental fractures, or chips as they are commonly called, than in all other closely related species studied. The size, number and position of chips can all give insight into the diet and behaviour of past populations.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the full original article.

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