Universiteit Leiden

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Lecture | Studium Generale

Eating our way to the top: Diet in human evolution

Wednesday 19 December 2018
The Future of Archaeology
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden

The dietary behavior of our ancient ancestors and relatives has profound influence on our own health and lifestyle. While hunting and meat-eating are often emphasized as drivers of social structure, pair-bonding, brain growth and other key human traits, the importance of plant foods in human evolution is often overlooked. Plants provide critical nutrients and comprise the majority of calories in some modern forager groups. The acquisition and processing of plant foods can also structure human behavior and evolutionary trajectories. Part of our ignorance of the role plant foods is due to taphonomic factors; plants are poorly preserved in the archaeological record. Recent methods emphasizing the consumption and processing of plants, combined with our existing understanding of animal food use, provides a more holistic picture of the evolution of our dietary niche.

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