Studying human evolution faces major challenge: Our ancestors lived in ‘ecosystems unlike any found today’

trackways
Image: U.S. National Park Service

To understand the environmental pressures that shaped human evolution, scientists must first piece together the details of the ancient plant and animal communities that our fossil ancestors lived in over the past seven million years. Because putting together the puzzle of millions-of-years-old ecosystems is a difficult task, many studies have reconstructed the environments by drawing analogies with present-day African ecosystems , such as the Serengeti.

A study led by a University of Utah scientist calls into question such approaches and suggests that the vast majority of human evolution occurred in ecosystems unlike any found today.

For example, fossil communities supported a greater diversity of megaherbivores, species over 2,000 pounds, such as elephants. Likewise, the dietary structure of fossil communities frequently departed from those seen today, with patterns of grass and leaf eating species fluctuating in abundance.

Related article:  'Not alone': 3 different human ancestors may have lived together in South Africa 2 million years ago

“If we continue to reconstruct ancient environments on the basis of modern African ecosystems, we are likely missing an entire realm of possibilities in how past ecosystems functioned. Our study invites our fellow researchers to think more critically about that,” [said lead author Tyler Faith].

Read full, original post: Early Humans Evolved in Ecosystems Unlike Any Found Today

Outbreak
Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped
can you boost your immune system to prevent coronavirus spread x

Video: How to boost your immune system to guard against COVID and other illnesses

Scientists have recently developed ways to measure your immune age. Fortunately, it turns out your immune age can go down ...
mag insects image superjumbo v

Disaster interrupted: Which farming system better preserves insect populations: Organic or conventional?

A three-year run of fragmentary Armageddon-like studies had primed the journalism pumps and settled the media framing about the future ...
dead bee desolate city

Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of ...
globalmethanebudget globalcarbonproject cropped x

Infographic: Cows cause climate change? Agriculture scientist says ‘belching bovines’ get too much blame

A recent interview by Caroline Stocks, a UK journalist who writes about food, agriculture and the environment, of air quality ...
organic hillside sweet corn x

Organic v conventional using GMOs: Which is the more sustainable farming?

Many consumers spend more for organic food to avoid genetically modified products in part because they believe that “industrial agriculture” ...
benjamin franklin x

Are most GMO safety studies funded by industry?

The assertion that biotech companies do the research and the government just signs off on it is false ...
gmo corn field x

Do GMO Bt (insect-resistant) crops pose a threat to human health or the environment?

Bt is a bacterium found organically in the soil. It is extremely effective in repelling or killing target insects but ...
favicon

Environmental Working Group: EWG challenges safety of GMOs, food pesticide residues

Known by some as the "Environmental Worrying Group," EWG lobbies for tighter GMO legislation and famously puts out annual "dirty dozen" list of fruits and ...
m hansen

Michael Hansen: Architect of Consumers Union ongoing anti-GMO campaign

Michael K. Hansen (born 1956) is thought by critics to be the prime mover behind the ongoing campaign against agricultural biotechnology at Consumer Reports. He is an ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend