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Nutcracker Man or the Swamp Thing? Reconstructing Megadont Hominin Diets
Department of Anthropology and Center for Human Evolutionary Studies, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, USA firstname.lastname@example.org
(Seminar in English)
The morphology of the genus Paranthropus is distinct and implies dietary specialization. Both P. robustus from South Africa and and P. boisei have long been reconstructed as committed to hard foods like nuts. However, evidence from dental microwear suggests that the diets of these two species may have been quite different despite similar morphology. Recent work on the mechanical properties of food consumed by living primates provides evidence that traditional notions of the mechanical challenges posed by food items placed in different categories are likely often wrong. This further complicates our understanding of the dental microwear of hominin species. Study of differences in chewing mechanics, the energetics of chewing, and comparative study of other mammals with very specialized diets may provide new interpretations of early hominin diets, especially in the case of Paranthropus.