The Early Hominid Plant-Food Niche: Insights From an Analysis of Plant Exploitation by Homo, Pan, and Papio in Eastern and Southern Africa [and Comments and Reply]

Bibliographic Collection: 
MOCA Reference, APE
Publication Type: Journal Article
Authors: Charles R. Peters; Eileen M. O'Brien; Noel T. Boaz; Glenn C. Conroy; Laurie R. Godfrey; Kenji Kawanaka; Adriaan Kortlandt; Toshisada Nishida; Frank E. Poirier; Euclid O. Smith
Year of Publication: 1981
Journal: Current Anthropology
Volume: 22
Pagination: 127-140
Publication Language: eng
ISSN: 00113204, 15375382

African plant-food genera exploited by Homo, Pan, and Papio have been catalogued and analyzed to provide an estimation of the size and composition of the fundamental plant-food niche of the early hominids. Results to date include recognition of more than 100 widely distributed African plant genera which are the best known candidates for plant-food exploitation by the Plio/Pleistocene hominids of eastern and southern Africa. An analysis of staples reveals that fruits would be the most common type of plant part contributing to the early hominid plant-food diet. Six plant genera (four providing edible fruits) are the first genera to be identified as members of the most probable early-hominid fundamental plant-food niche. Potential interspecies competition for plant-food staples has also been estimated. It is highly significant and must be considered in models predicting the realized niche of these primates and the early hominids.