Early Human Diets
Teeth Show Fruit Was the Staple
By: Boyce Rensberger, New York Times, May 1979
BALTIMORE - Preliminary studies of fossil teeth have led an anthropologist to
the startling suggestion that early human ancestors were not predominantly
meat eaters or even eaters of seeds, shoots, leaves or grasses. Nor were they
omnivorous. Instead, they appear to have subsisted chiefly on a diet of fruit.
Not until the advent of Homo erectus, the species immediately ancestral to
Homo sapiens is there evidence of the omnivorous diet that is typical of human
If confirmed, the findings would upset several widely held assumptions about
the diet of early hominids, or human-like creatures. It is generally held, for
example, that the large, flat-topped molars of the robust forms of
Australopithecus were used to grind tough nuts and roots.
The smaller form of Australopithecus and a similarly gracile form of true human
being called Homo Habilis were thought to have been omnivorous, mixing
meat with roots, nuts, eggs, shoots and fruit.
"I don't want to make too much of this yet", said Dr. Alan Walker, a Johns
Hopkins University anthropologist, who discovered the dental evidence. "But it
is quite a surprise."
No Exceptions Found
The sample of teeth studied so far is small - fewer than two dozen representing
four major types of hominids. But, while the sample is small, no exceptions
have been found.
Every tooth examined from the hominids of the 12-million-year period leading
up to Homo erectus appeared to be that of a fruit-eater.
Every Homo erectus tooth was that of an omnivore. Homo erectus was the
first form of human being known to have migrated out of Africa. Specimens
have been found in many parts of Africa and Asia.
The findings are based on extremely detailed analysis of the microscopic wear
patterns on the chewing surfaces of the teeth. The method, which Dr. Walker
invented, uses a scanning electronic microscope to see scratches and pits that
are invisible to the naked eye.
Dr. Walker has found that different kinds of food contain materials that mar the
enamel surface of a tooth in characteristic ways. It is possible even to
distinguish between a grass-eater and a leaf-eater because each food contains
characteristic types and quantities of silica crystals that form naturally within
These crystals, called phytoliths, are harder than tooth enamel and scratch it
slightly as the animal chews its food.
Grasses contain a much higher proportion of phytoliths than do leaves of
bushes and trees. Fruits contain almost none at all. As a result, fruit eaters'
teeth are highly polished, lacking any of the wear patterns characteristic of
other food sources. Meats contain no phytoliths but the teeth of carnivores
show scratches caused by crunching into bone.
Consistent Patterns of Wear
Using the teeth of various living mammals whose diets are known, Dr. Walker
has established that the basic pattern of microwear on teeth is fairly consistent
from one species to another. This is largely because tooth enamel is
essentially the same substance throughout the animal kingdom.
To prove his method, Dr. Walker has compared the microwear patterns on
closely related species of animals that are known to have different feeding
habits. For example, of two closely related species of hyrax (rodent-sized
hooved mammals sometimes called conies), one feeds predominantly on grass
while the other is a browser, eating leaves of bushes and trees. Their teeth can
be told apart easily using a scanning electronic microscope.
Dr. Walker has established similar patterns in the various types of wild pig,
such as warthog, and among a number of monkeys and apes. It is against
these patterns that the hominid teeth are checked.
If it is true that the earliest hominids were all predominantly fruit eaters, the fact
would suggest a way of life more like that of chimpanzees living in forests than
most anthropologists had suspected.
By: Boyce Rensberger, New York Times
May 15, 1979
Editors Note: Don Bennett; Disease Avoidance Specialist Health 101 Institute
DNA-wise, humans more closely resemble the Bonobo monkey than they do
the Chimpanzee monkey, and the differences between these two monkeys are
striking, including walking gate (Bonobos walk upright far more often than
Chimps), social behavior (Chimps are more aggressive than Bonobos), and
dietary preferences (Bonobos eat more fruit and green leafies than Chimps).
And regarding the conflicting information that has been circulated since the
above information first appeared, please keep this in mind: Humans are the
only animal that can come up with evidence to support a closely held belief
which, in reality, is untrue.
Some people who have a vested interest in perpetuating the "we're meant to
eat meat" information, and those who simply prefer to believe that this is the
case, go to great lengths to discredit honest information and to give credibility
to their point of view, sacrificing honesty and accuracy for personal preference
and profit motives.
It is unfortunate that these campaigns do nothing more than confuse the issue
and make it difficult for some people to get at the truth.
So, yes, we were at one time "hunter/gatherers", and many people refer to this
behavior as if this is the way it had always been. But we were foragers before
we were hunter/gatherers, just like our closest primate cousins.
We didn't need tools to eat, and we didn't need to chase or trap our food, it just
sat their waiting for us to pick it, and we were in good enough shape to be able
to climb to get some of it.
Today about the only thing some of us are capable of climbing is the corporate
ladder; to climb even a flight of stairs would sideline some people. To be as
healthy as you are capable of being, you need to give heed to the Natural Laws
that pertain to health (even though they may call into question some
Natural Law: Law, which so necessarily agrees with the nature and state of
man, that without observing its maxims (unwritten truths), the peace and
happiness of a society can never be created or preserved. Knowledge of
natural law may be attained merely by the light of reason; from the facts, and of
their essential agreeableness with the constitution of human nature.
Natural Law of Health: Health is the result of healthy living, which can be
further defined as those substances and influences that have a normal relation
to life: healthy food of one's biological design, pure water devoid of toxic
chemicals, and sufficient sunlight, rest, sleep, relaxation, physical activity, and
play, along with a comfortable environment, and positive social relationships.
Maxim of Health: Health is not the absence of symptoms; health is the absence
of disease that causes symptoms, usually many years later.
Our Current State of Health: Modern health care is, in reality, ill-health
management. Truly effective health care is self-care; it is when serious disease
is avoided rather than being diagnosed, treated, and managed. It IS known
what causes the many serious diseases that plague our society today... its just
not common knowledge.
Health Words of Wisdom:
"The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patients in
the care of the human frame, in diet, and in the cause and prevention of
disease." - Thomas Edison
By: Don Bennett www.health101.org
New York Times Article: