Anthropology prof conducts groundbreaking research on early human diet
Darryl de Ruiter, associate professor in the Department of Anthropology, is part of a team of researchers who recently discovered that one of our early ancestors ate a plant-rich diet. Nearly two million years ago, two members of the species Australopithecus sebida fell into a sinkhole, where their remains were buried in sediment. de Ruiter and his team analyzed the teeth of these specimens to determine more about what they ate when they were alive, and they found that their diets differed from other early human ancestors from that period.
One of humans’ early relatives ate leaves, bark, fruit, and nuts, which scientists say indicate it lived in a more wooded environment than previously thought. The researchers, including Texas A&M University anthropologist Darryl de Ruiter, report the surprising findings in the current issue of Nature.