Dental microwear texture analysis of hominins recovered by the Olduvai Landscape Paleoanthropology Project, 1995-2007

Peter S. Ungar, Kristin L. Krueger, Robert J. Blumenschine, Jackson Njau, Robert S. Scott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations

Abstract

Dental microwear analysis has proven to be a valuable tool for the reconstruction of aspects of diet in early hominins. That said, sample sizes for some groups are small, decreasing our confidence that results are representative of a given taxon and making it difficult to assess within-species variation. Here we present microwear texture data for several new specimens of Homo habilis and Paranthropus boisei from Olduvai Gorge, bringing sample sizes for these species in line with those published for most other early hominins. These data are added to those published to date, and microwear textures of the enlarged sample of H. habilis (n = 10) and P. boisei (n = 9) are compared with one another and with those of other early hominins. New results confirm that P. boisei does not have microwear patterns expected of a hard-object specialist. Further, the separate texture complexity analyses of early Homo species suggest that Homo erectus ate a broader range of foods, at least in terms of hardness, than did H. habilis, P. boisei, or the "gracile" australopiths studied. Finally, differences in scale of maximum complexity and perhaps textural fill volume between H. habilis and H. erectus are noted, suggesting further possible differences between these species in diet.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)429-437
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Human Evolution
Volume63
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Anthropology

Keywords

  • Diet
  • Homo erectus
  • Homo habilis
  • Paranthropus boisei

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