Human Diet: Its Origin and Evolution

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Peter S. Ungar, Mark Franklyn Teaford
Greenwood Publishing Group, 2002 - Health & Fitness - 206 pages

Diet is key to understanding the past, present, and future of our species. Much of human evolutionary success can be attributed to our ability to consume a wide range of foods. On the other hand, recent changes in the types of foods we eat may lie at the root of many of the health problems we face today. To deal with these problems, we must understand the evolution of the human diet.

Studies of traditional peoples, non-human primates, human fossil and archaeological remains, nutritional chemistry, and evolutionary medicine, to name just a few, all contribute to our understanding of the evolution of the human diet. Still, as analyses become more specialized, researchers become more narrowly focused and isolated. This volume attempts to bring together authors schooled in a variety of academic disciplines so that we might begin to build a more cohesive view of the evolution of the human diet. The book demonstrates how past diets are reconstructed using both direct analogies with living traditional peoples and non-human primates, and studies of the bones and teeth of fossils. An understanding of our ancestral diets reveals how health relates to nutrition, and conclusions can be drawn as to how we may alter our current diets to further our health.


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Should be read by FAO officials, food security advocates, major global food corporations, academics in biological and conservation fields.
It is provocative and insightful. If humble, an academic
can help us make major headway to a new paradigm for human survial and health among a diversity of species. 


Perspectives on the Evolution of Human Diet
Evolution Diet and Health
PostPleistocene Human Evolution Bioarcheology of the Agricultural Transition
Early Childhood Health in Foragers
MeatEating Grandmothering and the Evolution of Early Human Diets
A TwoStage Model of Increased Dietary Quality in Early Hominid Evolution The Role of Fiber
Plants of the Apes Is There a Hominoid Model for the Origins of the Hominid Diet?
HunterGatherer Diets Wild Foods Signal Relief from Diseases of Affluence
Hominid Dietary Niches from Proxy Chemical Indicators in Fossils The Swartkrans Example
Paleontological Evidence for the Diets of African PlioPleistocene Hominins with Special Reference to Early Homo
About the Editors and Contributors

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Page 192 - Salem N, Wegher B, Mena P, Uauy R. 1996. Arachidonic and docosahexaenoic acids are biosynthesized from their 18-carbon precursors in human infants.
Page 190 - The effect of dietary protein restriction on the progression of diabetic and nondiabetic renal diseases: a meta-analysis. Ann Intern Med l24:627-32.
Page 187 - Cervus elaphus tooth enamels during fossilization (Lazaret Cave): a combined IR and XRD Rietveld analysis.
Page 171 - Bryant, JD and Froelich, PN, 1995. A model of oxygen isotope fractionation in body water of large mammals Geochim.
Page 170 - Blumenschine, RJ (1995). Percussion marks, tooth marks, and experimental determinations of the timing of hominid and carnivore access to long bones at FLK Zinjanthropus. Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania. Journal of Human Evolution 29, 21-51. Blumenschine, RJ & Marean, CW (1993). A carnivore's view of archaeological bone assemblages.
Page 199 - Wood DA, Riemersma RA. Butler S, et al. Linoleic and eicosapentaenoic acids in adipose tissue and platelets and risk of coronary heart disease. Lancet 1987:1:177-83.
Page 185 - Macho, GA, 1994. Variation in enamel thickness and cusp area within human maxillary molars and its bearing on scaling techniques used for studies of enamel thickness between species.

About the author (2002)

PETER S. UNGAR is Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Arkansas.

MARK F. TEAFORD is Professor, Dept. of Cell Biology and Anatomy, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

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