Earliest Porotic Hyperostosis on a 1.5-Million-Year-Old Hominin, Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania



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Domínguez Rodrigo, Manuel and Pickering, T.R. and Díez Martín, Fernando and Mabulla, Audax and Musiba, C. and Trancho Gayo, Gonzalo and Baquedano, Enrique and Bunn, Henry T. and Barboni, D. and Santonja, Manuel and Uribelarrea del Val, David and Ashley, G.M. and Martínez-Ávila, María del Sol and Barba, Rebeca and Agness, Gidna and Yravedra Sainz de los Terreros, José and Arriaza, María del Carmen (2012) Earliest Porotic Hyperostosis on a 1.5-Million-Year-Old Hominin, Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania. PLoS ONE, 7 (10). ISSN 1932-6203

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Meat-eating was an important factor affecting early hominin brain expansion, social organization and geographic movement. Stone tool butchery marks on ungulate fossils in several African archaeological assemblages demonstrate a significant level of carnivory by Pleistocene hominins, but the discovery at Olduvai Gorge of a child's pathological cranial fragments indicates that some hominins probably experienced scarcity of animal foods during various stages of their life histories. The child's parietal fragments, excavated from 1.5-million-year-old sediments, show porotic hyperostosis, a pathology associated with anemia. Nutritional deficiencies, including anemia, are most common at weaning, when children lose passive immunity received through their mothers' milk. Our results suggest, alternatively, that (1) the developmentally disruptive potential of weaning reached far beyond sedentary Holocene food-producing societies and into the early Pleistocene, or that (2) a hominin mother's meat-deficient diet negatively altered the nutritional content of her breast milk to the extent that her nursing child ultimately died from malnourishment. Either way, this discovery highlights that by at least 1.5 million years ago early human physiology was already adapted to a diet that included the regular consumption of meat.

Item Type:Article
Subjects:Sciences > Geology > Paleontology
ID Code:69822
Deposited On:27 Jan 2022 06:43
Last Modified:27 Jan 2022 09:45

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