Crocodiles: Brain food for early humans

BALTIMORE, June 14 (UPI) -- A team of researchers that included Johns Hopkins University geologist Naomi Levin say early hominids' diet included turtles and crocodiles.

Levin, as assistant professor, said the team found early hominids living in what is now northern Kenya ate a wider variety of foods than previously thought. That diet included fish and aquatic animals that were rich in protein and nutrients, thereby playing a key role in the development of a larger, more human-like brain.


"Considering that growing a bigger brain requires many nutrients and calories, anthropologists have posited that adding meat to their diet was key to the development of a larger brain," Levin said. "Before now, we have never had such a wealth of data that actually demonstrates the wide variety of animal resources that early humans accessed," added Levin, who served as the main geologist on the team that included scientists from the United States, South Africa, Kenya, Australia and the United Kingdom.

A paper offering the first evidence of such dietary variety among early pre-humans appeared in a recent issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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