Dietary mechanical landscape forms hominin evolution

Tinuku - Chimpanzees are traditionally described as ripe fruit specialists with large incisors but relatively small postcanine teeth, adhering to a somewhat narrow dietary niche. Field observations and isotopic analyses suggest that environmental conditions greatly affect habitat resource utilisation by chimpanzee populations.

Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig combine the steps of dietary mechanics with the signature isotope stable from Eastern chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) that lives in the Ngogo tropical forest in Uganda and the savannah forest of Issa Valley in Tanzania.

Tinuku Dietary mechanical landscape forms hominin evolution

"We show that food in Issa can present considerable mechanical challenges, most prominent in the external network of savanna forest plants compared to their tropical forest equivalents. This pattern coincides with different isotope signatures between sites, "said Adam van Casteren and colleagues.

These findings are reported to to show chimpanzee food in some habitats is mechanically more demanding than previously thought, explaining the broader evolutionary limits that work on chimpanzee tooth morphology. Similarly, these data can help clarify the dietary mechanical landscape of extinct hominins that are often overlooked by the broad C3/C4 isotope category.