The Evolution of Human Nutrition

Event Dates: 
Dec 7, 2012 -
1:00pm to 5:30pm

Tracing the evolution of the human diet from our earliest ancestors can lead to a better understanding of human adaptation in the past.  It may also offer clues to the origin of many health problems that we currently face, such as obesity and chronic disease.   The CARTA public symposium on "The Evolution of Human Nutrition" brought together scientists from a wide variety of backgrounds to explore the diets of our ancestors.  What did early humans eat? Were the nutritional requirements and dietary needs of contemporary humans established in our prehistoric past?  At this symposium, a lively discussion took place about the changing diets of our ancestors - from australopith diets to current hunter-gatherer diets - and what role these dietary transitions played in the evolution of humans.

Event Sessions

Media for each talk can be played by clicking on icons in the "Media" column, or by clicking on the individual talk titles below and then the attachment file at the bottom of the page.

Date Media Session Title Speakers Abstract Location
Fri 12/7 File Welcome and Opening Remarks Margaret Schoeninger, Ajit Varki UCSD - Price Center, East Ballroom
Fri 12/7 File Background and Overview Leslie Aiello

The evolution of human nutrition has gained general prominence in recent years through the popularity of the paleolithic diet that is also popularly referred to as the paleodiet, caveman diet or... more

UCSD - Price Center, East Ballroom
Fri 12/7 File Diets and Microbes in Primates Steven Leigh

Human microbiomes, or communities consisting of the microorganisms that live in, on, and around us, have profound effects on health, disease, and normal host function. The intestinal microbiome is... more

UCSD - Price Center, East Ballroom
Fri 12/7 File Current Hunter-Gatherer Diets Alyssa Crittenden

The diet composition of hunter-gatherer populations continues to be implicated in the reconstruction of dietary models and social behavior of early members of the genus Homo. Diet has been linked... more

UCSD - Price Center, East Ballroom
Fri 12/7 File Australopith Diets Peter Ungar

Robert Atkins wrote in The New Diet Revolution of our ancestors “eating the fish and animals that scampered and swam around him, and the fruits and vegetables and berries that grew nearby.” This... more

UCSD - Price Center, East Ballroom
Fri 12/7 File Fire, Starch, Meat, and Honey Richard Wrangham

Unlike all other free-living animals, human populations need to eat much of their food cooked. When and why this evolutionary commitment to the control of fire began is a fascinating evolutionary... more

UCSD - Price Center, East Ballroom
Fri 12/7 File Neanderthal Diets Alison Brooks, Margaret Schoeninger

Neanderthals present an enigma for which there is no consensus about their cognitive and behavioral capacities compared to those of anatomically modern humans. With regards to nutrition,... more

UCSD - Price Center, East Ballroom
Fri 12/7 File Archaic Human Diets Mary Stiner

What is the legacy of the human ecological footprint in deep time, and how might this legacy relate to the evolution of human social and energy networks? At least three major transitions can be... more

UCSD - Price Center, East Ballroom
Fri 12/7 File Agriculture's Impact on Human Evolution Clark Larsen

Beginning some ten to twelve thousand years ago, fully modern Homo sapiens began to alter their diets in ways that would profoundly impact their lives and livelihoods on a global scale. Starting... more

UCSD - Price Center, East Ballroom
Fri 12/7 File Impact of Globalization on Children's Nutrition Barry Bogin

Globalization is, in part, an economic force to bring about a closer integration of national economies. Food globalization brings about nutritional transitions. The most common transition today is... more

UCSD - Price Center, East Ballroom
Fri 12/7 Wrap-up Leslie Aiello UCSD - Price Center, East Ballroom
Fri 12/7 File Question and Answer Session and Closing Remarks Leslie Aiello, Pascal Gagneux, Margaret Schoeninger UCSD - Price Center, East Ballroom