The very first ‘brain food’?
New archaeological digs in Kenya may represent the moment (in geological time!) when humans expanded their herbivore diet to include seafood, possibly a contributing factor in the evolution of our unique brains.
A CACHE of turtles, crocodiles and catfish butchered some 2 million years ago has been uncovered near the eastern banks of Lake Turkana in Kenya. The remains, which are some of the earliest evidence of meat-eating in our ancestors, suggest that our early humans may have found it easier to get protein from aquatic animals than to compete with other land hunters.
The fossils lie alongside hundreds of stone tools that were probably used to butcher the animals. “It’s a massive amount of material,” says David Braun, an archaeologist at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, whose team began excavating the remains in 2004.
There are no hominin bones at the site, making it difficult to determine who made the tools and ate the meat. The cache was found below a layer of volcanic ash from an eruption 1.9 million years ago, but before a 2-million-year-old geomagnetic shift. That’s too early for Homo erectus. Braun says smaller, stockier hominins such as Homo habilis or even late australopithecines were responsible.