Hominin Meat Consumption (HoMeCo)  

Group leader: Dr. Tina Lüdecke

Cross section of an over 1 million old tooth from Homo erectus. The tooth enamel, on which the researchers of the Lüdecke group will conduct their measurements, can be clearly seen as the outer layer.

Dietary change and, in particular, the consumption of animal products is considered a key event in human evolution that played a major role in the success of the genus Homo. However, widely accepted, direct evidence for meat consumption in early hominins is still lacking. In her work, the geochemist Dr. Tina Lüdecke and her team in the HoMeCo Project (Hominin Meat Consumption) hope to clarify questions about the onset and intensification of meat consumption in early hominins using a method they developed to analyze nitrogen isotopes in tooth enamel. 

The team plans to analyze fossil teeth from early hominins and the animals that lived alongside them, to better understand their position in their respective food webs. Specifically, they will look at 4.2 to 1.4 million-year-old teeth from our immediate ancestors (i.e. early members of the genus Homo), as well as the extinct hominins Australopithecus, Paranthropus, and Kenyanthropus which lived in eastern and southern Africa. With this unprecedented dataset, the Emmy Noether Research Group will evaluate the onset and intensification of meat consumption of the early hominin species which existed during a critical period of climate-induced environmental change and hominin adaptation. 
 

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