Grant TypePost PhD Research Grant
Institutional AffiliationColorado State U.
Grant numberGr. 9245
Approve DateApril 8, 2016
Project TitlePante, Dr. Michael Christopher, Colorado State U., Fort Collins, CO - To aid research on 'The Paleo Diet: Carnivory and Human Evolution'
Dr. Michael Christopher Pante, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, received funding in April 2016 to aid research on ‘The Paleo Diet: Carnivory and Human Evolution.’ This project tracks the carnivorous diet of the genus Homo at Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania through the analysis of fossil animal bones that preserve traces of hominin and carnivore feeding in the form of carnivore tooth and stone tool butchery marks. The focus of this study was on the Oldowan/Acheulean transition, which is marked by the appearance of a new species of human ancestor, Homo erectus. Three fossil assemblages (HWKEE, MNK Main, and FC) excavated by the Olduvai Geochronology and Archaeology Project (OGAP) were studied for traces of hominin feeding behavior and their ecological interactions with carnivores. Preliminary results show that hominins at the sites exploited a diverse range of fauna ranging from small antelopes to elephants. They accessed both flesh and marrow from carcasses and were competing with the carnivorous animals at the sites including both mammalian carnivores and crocodiles. Further analyses hope to reveal the relative timing of hominin and carnivore access to carcasses, the specific mammalian carnivores that hominins were competing with and the tool types they were using to butcher animals. Data will be compared between these sites to examine behavioral and ecological shifts associated with the appearance of Homo erectus and its more advanced Acheulean technology.