The FINANCIAL – The role of plant foods in the evolution and dispersal of early modern humans has often been underestimated. A team from the University of Queensland found ancient charcoal, which contains trace elements of food cooked by locals 65,000 years ago and which proves that Australians subsisted on a diet that was largely vegetarian. Also, new study says that we must push back the date from which humans arrived by almost 20,000 years, to 65,000 years ago.
Researchers investigating one of Australia’s oldest aboriginal sites have discovered new evidence that many ancient humans subsisted on a mainly vegetarian diet. The team, led by University of Queensland archaeobotanist Anna Florin, worked with a group of First Australians from the region to investigate Madjedbebe, one of the earliest known human settlements in the country dating back 65,000 years. The team found a collection of small charcoal samples, which contained traces of the different foods the site’s earliest residents cooked and ate, Daily Mail reported.
According to a study published in the journal Nature Communications, the scientists, with the help of local Aboriginal elders, were able to identify 10 different plant foods by analyzing the preserved charcoal. These included various fruits and nuts, palm stems and “roots and tubers.” The ancient plant foods are just one of several significant discoveries that have been made at Madjedbebe. For example, the site contains evidence of the earliest grindstone technology outside of Africa and the first recorded use of reflective pigments anywhere in the world. Furthermore, the site is significant because it has pushed back the known timing of human movement into Australia, according to Newsweek.
University of Queensland archaeobotanist Anna Florin said a team of archaeologists and Traditional Owners identified 10 plant foods, including several types of fruits and nuts, underground storage organs (‘roots and tubers’), and palm stem. “By working with Elders and co-authors May Nango and Djaykuk Djandjomerr, the team was also able to explain how the plants were likely used at Madjedbebe,” Ms Florin said. “The First Australians had a great deal of botanical knowledge and this was one of the things that allowed them to adapt to and thrive in this new environment. “They were able to guarantee access to carbohydrates, fat and even protein by applying this knowledge, as well as technological innovation and labour, to the gathering and processing of Australian plant foods.” Excavation director Professor Chris Clarkson from UQ’s School of Social Science said he was surprised and delighted by the quantity of archaeobotanical evidence recovered from the site, Science Daily wrote.
“We demonstrate that Australia’s earliest known human population exploited a range of plant foods, including those requiring processing. Our finds predate existing evidence for such subsistence practices in Sahul by at least 23ky. These results suggest that dietary breadth underpinned the success of early modern human populations in this region, with the expenditure of labour on the processing of plants guaranteeing reliable access to nutrients in new environments. ” The role of plant foods in the evolution and dispersal of early modern humans (EMHs) has often been underestimated. A long-held focus on the notion of Paleolithic populations as meat eaters and a lack of consistent archaeobotanical recovery has frequently constrained analysis and understandings of EMH diet to its animal components, is said in a statement published by Nature Communications journal.
65,000-year-old charcoal samples that contained traces of a regional food plan, suggested that the earliest Australians subsisted on a diet that was largely vegetarian. The samples were created by prospect, Florin advised Newsweek, as small items of foods spilled about all through cooking. The team employed substantial-driven microscopes to determine the distinctive chemical traces and worked with co-authors and nearby Mirarr elders May Mango and Djaykuk Djandjomerr to match the traces with various vegetation normally found in the spot. In all, the samples pointed to 10 different foods, like fruit seeds, nut shells, palm stem fragments, yam fibers and root peels, ABC 14 News.
Experts studying ancient artefacts in Australia say we must push back the date from which humans arrived by almost 20,000 years, to 65,000 years ago. The discovery means that they would have lived alongside Australia’s unique megafauna for tens of thousands of years. Over 10,000 stone tools, ochre ‘crayons’, plant remains and bones have been unearthed at the site since 1973. Their analysis found that humans arrived in Australia far earlier than had been thought, according to Daily Mail.