The Jaws of Our Ancestors Reveal More About Evolution

The jaws of our ancestors reveal more about evolution and might give us more information on our origins.

It seems the jaws of our ancestors reveal more about evolution, as proved in the latest study on the matter. Humans might find a more precise place in the evolutionary tree if this two million years old species is included among our ancestors.

Researchers studied the jaw of the species in question and thus reached the conclusion that it might have had a similar dining menu as we humans. The study was published in the Nature Communications journal last Monday, and it analyzed the Australopithecus sediba bite. It seems the small species that was quite similar to an ape used to eat similar food to the one consumed by the modern human, Homo sapiens. Furthermore, it looks like it also had similar limitations when it came to chewing tougher foods.

Australopithecus sediba is known to have lived about two million years ago. It was discovered in South Africa back in 2008 and the research conducted since then has demonstrated that it had similar features with humans: the hands, the face and also the walking and climbing style.

Washington University anthropology professor and co-author of the study David Strait has stated that the species features unique adaptations in its face, jaws and teeth that allowed it to chew food that was normally quite difficult to crack, and all this with high force.

Even though a study from 2012 suggested that Australopithecus sediba used to consume tree bark, the new research points towards the fact that the species might have had quite some limitations too. Scientists are giving a lot of attention to A. sediba since it may very well be the closest ancestor of Homo Sapiens.

The new study involved the analysis of the dental and facial structure of A. sediba and thus determined its diet. Researchers could observe a model made after the skull of A. sediba discovered in 2008. The conclusion they reached is that vital foods during its age were not difficult to chew and process. However, even if the species presented the ability of eating hard foods, it probably was not truly adapted to it.

Strait concluded that his study is a proof of the difference between understanding the adaptations and behaviors of extinct species. As the jaws of our ancestors reveal more about evolution, we might be closer than ever to adding another member to our family tree.

Image Source: Gephardt Daily