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African ancestors 'revolutionised' our diet

THE AGE OF ROCK: Ancient African cave art

THE HUMAN diet changed dramatically about 3.4 million years ago when our African ancestors developed from eating merely leaves and fruits to consuming grass, according to new research.

Data provided by an international team of scientists, refutes the long-held belief that early humans had the same basic diets of forest-dwelling primates.

Published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the series of studies analysed the tooth enamel of ancestors of humans and great apes to show early man gained a taste for grasses and sedges, grass-like plants with edged stems.

"It was like the opening of a new restaurant and they didn't have to eat the same old stuff," University of Utah geo-chemist Thure Cerling told Reuters.

“No longer dependent on forests for their supply of food, the change in diet helped pave the way for early man to explore new habitats.”

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