Please wait a minute...
img img
Adv. Search
Advances in Earth Science  2008, Vol. 23 Issue (3): 228-235    DOI: 10.11867/j.issn.1001-8166.2008.03.0228
Application of Bone Chemistry Analysis to the Studies of Hominin Dietary Evolution
Hu Yaowu1,2,Michael P. Richards1,Liu Wu3,Wang Changsui2
1.Department of Human Evolution, Max-Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Deutscher Platz 6, D-04103, Leipzig, Germany; 2. Department of Scientific History and Archaeometry, Graduate University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049,China; 3. Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Palaeoanthropology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100044,China
Download:  PDF (158KB) 
Export:  BibTeX | EndNote (RIS)      

The study of evolution of Hominin (>10,000 years ago) diets is one of important components to explore the origin and evolution of human beings. Bone chemistry analysis has been proved to be not only one of main methods but also one of the most effective methods to study Hominin diets. After brief introduction of principles of bone chemistry analysis, this paper presents how to apply it to reconstruct the diets of the Hominin (Australopithecines, Homo, Neanderthals, European anatomically modern human), and reveals the dietary evolution from the Australopithecines to Homo on the basis of comparison with the chimpanzee diets as the proxy for the earliest human ancestor as well as how palaeodietary evolution has deep impact on human evolution. In addition, two important problems and the solutions to deal with them in the studies are also presented. At last, the reviews on Hominin diet studies in China and perspectives for further study in the future are discussed.

Key words:  Hominin      Palaeodiet      Bone chemistry analysis      Trace element analysis      Stable isotope analysis.     
Received:  30 September 2007      Published:  10 March 2008
E-mail this article
Add to my bookshelf
Add to citation manager
E-mail Alert
Articles by authors

Cite this article: 

Hu Yaowu,Michael P. Richards,Liu Wu,Wang Changsui. Application of Bone Chemistry Analysis to the Studies of Hominin Dietary Evolution. Advances in Earth Science, 2008, 23(3): 228-235.

URL:     OR

[1] Hockett BJonathan H. Nutritional ecology and diachronic trends in Paleolithic diet and health [J]. Evolutionary Anthropology: IssuesNewsand Reviews2003125):211-216.

[2] Neil M. Dietary lean red meat and human evolution [J]. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition200039: 71-79.

[3] Ambrose S H. Stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analysis of human and animal diet in Africa [J]. Journal of Human Evolution198615707-731.

[4] Teaford MUngar P S. Diet and the evolution of the earliest human ancestors [J]. Proceedings of National Academy of SciencesUSA20009725):13 506-13 511.

[5] Richards M P. A brief review of the archaeological evidence for Palaeolithic and Neolithic subsistence [J]. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition200256: 1 270-1 278.

[6] Price T D. The Chemistry of Prehistoric Human Bone [M].Cambridge: Cambridge University Press1989.

[7] Lee-Thorp J ASponheimer M. Contributions of biogeochemistry to understanding early hominin ecology [J]. Yearbook of Physical Anthropology200649131-148.

[8] Hu YaowuYang XuemingWang Changsui. Reviews on palaeodietary researches [C]Wang Changsuiet aleds. Proceedings of Chinese Archaeometry2nd edition. Hefei: University of Science and Technology of China Press2000:51-58. [胡耀武,杨学明,王昌燧.古代人类食物结构研究现状[C]王昌燧,等编. 科技考古论丛(第二辑).合肥:中国科学技术大学出版社,2000:51-58.]

[9] Zhang Xuelian. Application of elements and stable isotopes to study human diets [J]. Acta Anthropologica Sinica2003221):75-85. [张雪莲.应用古人骨的元素、同位素分析研究其食物结构[J]. 人类学学报,2003221):75-85.]

[10] Van der Merwe N J.Carbon isotopesphotosysthesis and archaeology [J]. American Scientist198270596-606.

[11] Van der Merwe N JRoosevelt A CVogel A C. Isotopic evidence for prehistoric subsistence change at ParmanaVeneznela [J]. Nature1981292536-538.

[12] Kohn J M.You are what you eat [J]. Science199915335-336.

[13] DeNiro M JEpstein S.Influence of diet on the distribution of carbon isotopes in animals [J]. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta197842495-506.

[14] Ambrose S HNorr L.Isotopic composition of dietary protein and energy versus bone collagen and apatite: Purified diet growth experiments [C]Lambert J Bet aleds. Molecular Archaeology of Prehistoric Human Bone. Berlin: Springer1993:1-37.

[15] Bocherens HFizet MMariotti A. Dietphysiology and ecology of fossil mammals as inferred from stable carbon and nitrogen isotope biogenchemistry:Implications for Pleistocene bears [J]. PalaeogeographyPalaeoclimatologyPalaeoecology1994107215-225.

[16] Elias R WHirao YPatterson C C. The circumvention of the natural biopurification of calcium along nutrient pathways by atmospheric inputs of industrial lead [J]. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta1982462 561-2 580.

[17] Burton J HWright L E.Nonlinearity in the relationship between bone Sr/Ca and diet: Palaeodietary implications [J]. American Journal of Physical Anthropology199596273-282.

[18] Aiello L CAndrows P. The Australopithecines in review [C]Ciochon R Let aleds. The Human Evolution Source Booksecond edition. New Jersey: Person Education Inc2006:76-89.

[19] Ambrose S H.A tool for all reasons [J]. Science2006314: 930-931.

[20] Schoeninger M J. Stable isotope studies in human evolution [J]. Evolutionary Anthropology: IssuesNews and Reviews199543:83-98.

[21] Aiello L CWheeler P. The expensive tissue hypothesis: The brain and the digestive system in human and primate evolution [J]. Current Anthropology199536: 199-221.

[22] Sillen A. Strontium-calcium ratiosSr/Ca of Australopithecus robustus and associated fauna from Swartkrans [J]. Journal of Human Evolution199223: 495-516.

[23] Sillen AHall GArmstrong R. Strontium calcium ratiosSr/Ca and strontium isotopic ratios 87Sr/86Sr of Australopithecus robustus and Homo sp. from Swartkrans [J]. Journal of Human Evolution199528:277-285.

[24] Sponheimer MRuiter DLee-Thorp Jet al. Sr/Ca and early hominin diets revisited: New data from modern and fossil tooth enamel [J]. Journal of Human Evolution200548: 147-156.

[25] Sponheimer MLee-Thorp J A. Enamel diagenesis at South African Australopith sites: Implications for paleoecological reconstruction with trace elements [J]. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta200670: 1 644-1 654.

[26] Carter M L. Sensitivity of stable isotopes13C15Nand 18O in bone to dietary specialization and niche separation among sympatric primates in Kibale National ParkUganda [D]. Chicago: University of Chicago2001.

[27] Schoeninger M JMoore J Sept J M. Subsistence strategies of two savanna chimpanzee populations: The stable isotope evidence [J]. American Journal of Primatology199949: 297-314.

[28] Sponheimer MLoudon J ECodron Det al. Do savanna'' chimpanzees consume C4  resources? [J]. Journal of Human Evolution200651: 128-133.

[29] Lee-Thorp J Avan der Merwe N JBrain C K. Diet of Australopithecus robustus at Swartkrans from stable carbon isotopic analysis [J]. Journal of Human Evolution199427: 361-372.

[30] Sponheimer MPassey B Hde Ruiter D Jet al. Isotopic evidence for dietary variability in the early Hominin Paranthropus robustus [J]. Science200631410: 980-982.

[31] Sponheimer MLee-Thorp J A. Isotopic Evidence for the Diet of an Early Hominid Australopithecus africanus [J]. Science199928315: 368-370.

[32] van der Merwe N JThackeray J FLee-Thorp J Aet al. The carbon isotope ecology and diet of australopithecus africanus at SterkfonteinSouth Africa [J]. Journal of Human Evolution2003 44: 581-597.

[33] Lee-Thorp JThackeray J Fvan der Merwe N J. The hunters and the hunted revisited [J]. Journal of Human Evolution200039: 565-576.

[34] Sponheimer MLee-Thorp Jde Ruiter Det al. Homininssedgesand termites: New carbon isotope data from the Sterkfontein valley and Kruger National Park [J]. Journal of Human Evolution200548: 301-312.

[35] Peters C RVogel J C. Africa's wild C4 plant foods and possible early hominid diets [J]. Journal of Human Evolution200548:219-236.

[36] Milton K. Primate diets and gut morphology: Implications for hominid evolution [C]Harris Met aleds. Food and Evolution.Philadelphia: Temple University1987:93-115.

[37] Sponheimer MLee-Thorp J A. Differential resource utilization by extant great apes and Australopithecines: Towards solving the C4 conundrum [J]. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology2003136: 27-34.

[38] Green R EKrause JPtak S Eet al. Analysis of one million base pairs of Neanderthal DNA [J]. Nature2006444: 330-336.

[39] Krings MStone ASchmitz RWet al. Neanderthal DNA sequences and the origin of modern humans [J]. Cell1997901: 19-30.

[40] Bocherens HFizet MMariotti Aet al. Isotopic biogeochemistry13C15N of fossil vertebrate collagen: Implications for the study of fossil food web including Neanderthal Man [J]. Journal of Human Evolution199120: 481-492.

[41] Fizet MMariotti ABocherens Het al. Effect of dietphysiology and climate on carbon and nitrogen isotopes of collagen in a late Pleistocene anthropic paleoecosystemFrance CharenteMarillac[J]. Journal of Archaeological Science1995: 22: 67-79.

[42] Bocherens HBilliou DPatou-Mathis Met al. Palaeoenvironmental and palaeodietary implications of isotopic biogeochemistry of late interglacial Neanderthal and mammal bones in Scladina CaveBelgium[J]. Journal of Archaeological Science199926:599-607.

[43] Bocherens HToussaint MBilliou Det al. New isotopic evidence for dietary habits of Neandertals from Belgium [J]. Journal of Human Evolution200140:497-505.

[44] Bocherens HDrucker D GBilliou Det al. Isotopic evidence for diet and subsistence pattern of the Saint-Cesaire I Neanderthal: Review and use of a multi-source mixing model [J]. Journal of Human Evolution200549: 71-87.

[45] Richards M PPettitt P BTrinkaus Eet al. Neanderthal diet at Vindija and Neanderthal predation: The evidence from stable isotopes [J]. Proceedings of National Academy of SciencesUSA20009713: 7 663-7 666.

[46] Richards M PJacobi RCurrant Aet al. Gough's Cave and Sun Hole Cave human stable isotope values indicate a high animal protein diet in the British Upper Palaeolithic [J]. Journal of Archaeological Science200027: 1-3.

[47] Richards M PPettitt P BStiner M Cet al. Stable isotope evidence for increasing dietary breadth in the European mid-Upper Paleolithic [J]. Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences20019811:6 528-6 532.

[48] Richards M PJacoby RCook Jet al. Isotopic evidence for the intensive use of marine foods by late Upper Palaeolithic humans [J]. Journal of Human Evolution200549: 390-394.

[49] Hockett BHaws J A. Nutritional ecology and the human demography of Neanderthal extinction [J]. Quaternary International200513721-34.

[50] Price T DBlitz JBurton J H. Diagenesis in prehistoric bone: Problems and solutions [J]. Journal of Archaeological Science199219: 513-530.

[51] Hu YaowuWang ChangsuiZuo Jianet al. XRD and Raman spectra analyses of hydroxylapatite in ancient human bones [J]. Acta Biophysica Sinica2001174:621-627. [胡耀武,王昌燧,左健,等.古人类骨中羟磷灰石的XRD和喇曼光谱分析[J]. 生物物理学报,2001174):621-627.]

[52] Ambrose S H. Preparation and characterization of bone and tooth collagen for isotopic analysis [J]. Journal of Archaeological Science199017: 431-451.

[53] Ambrose S HButler B MHanson D Bet al. Stable isotopic analysis of human diet in the Marianas ArchipelagoWestern Pacific [J]. American Journal of Physical Anthropology1997104: 343-361.

[54] Pechenkina E AAmbrose S HMa Xet al. Reconstructing northern Chinese Neolithic subsistence practices by isotopic analysis [J]. Journal of Archaeological Science200532: 1 176-1 189.

[55] Hu YAmbrose S HWang C. Stable isotopic analysis of human ones from Jiahu siteHenan China: Implications for transition to agriculture [J]. Journal of Archaeological Science200633: 1 319-1 330.

[56] Sponheimer MLee-Thorp J A. Alteration of enamel carbonate environments during fossilization [J]. Journal of Archaeological Science199926: 143-150.

[57] Lee-Thorp J ASponheimer M. Three case studies used to reassess the reliability of fossil bone and enamel isotope signals for paleodietary studies [J]. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology200322:208-216.

[58] Hu YaowuHe DeliangLiu Xinyiet al. Elemental analysis of human bones from Xigongqiao siteTengzhouShandong province [J]. Chemical Journal of Chinese Universities2006276: 1 075-1 079.[胡耀武,何德亮,刘歆益,等. 山东藤州西公桥遗址人骨的元素分析[J].高等学校化学学报,2006276:1 075-1 079.]

[59] Cai LianzhenQiu Shihua. Measurement of carbon 13 and palaeodietary research [J]. Archaeology198410: 945-955. [蔡莲珍,仇士华.碳十三测定和古代食谱研究[J]. 考古, 198410945-955.]

[60] Zhang XuelianWang JinxiaXian Ziqianget al. Ancient human dietary researches [J]. Archaeology20032: 62-75.[张雪莲,王金霞,冼自强,等.古人类食物结构研究[J]. 考古,2003262-75.]

[61] Hu YaowuHe DeliangDong Yuet al. Stable isotope analysis of human bones in Xigongqiao siteTengzhouShandong province [J]. Quarternary Science2005255: 561-567. [胡耀武,何德亮,董豫,等.山东滕州西宫桥遗址人骨的稳定同位素分析[J]. 第四纪研究,2005  255: 561-567.]

[62] Hu YaowuBurton J HWang Changsui. Elemental analysis of human bones from Jiahu site [J]. Acta Anthropologica Sinica2005242: 158-165. [胡耀武,James H. Burton,王昌燧.贾湖遗址人骨的元素分析[J]. 人类学学报,2005242):158-165.]

[63] Hu YaowuAmborse S HWang Changsui. Stable isotope analysis of human bones from Jiahu site [J]. Science in China:Series D2007371:94-101.[胡耀武,Stanley H. Ambrose,王昌燧.贾湖遗址人骨的稳定同位素分析[J]. 中国科学:D辑,2007371:94-101.]

[64] Hu YaowuWang GengfuCui Yapinget al. Palaeodietary research on ancient humans from Sanxingcun siteJintanJiangsu Province [J]. Chinese Science Bulletin2007521:85-88.[胡耀武,王根富,崔亚平,等.江苏金坛三星村遗址先民的食谱研究[J]. 科学通报,2007521:85-88.]

[65] Wu Xinzhi. Some suggestions for developing studies on human origin in China during 21st century [J]. Quaternary Science2001213: 233-239.[吴新智.21世纪发展中国人类起源研究的若干建议[J]. 第四纪研究,2001213):233-239.]

[66] Liu Wu. The origin and development of Mongolian race and modern Chinese [J]. Acta Antrhopologica Sinica1997161:55-74.[刘武.蒙古人种及现代中国人的起源与演化[J]. 人类学学报,1997161):55-74.]

[67] Keates S G. Biostratigraphytaphonomypalaeoenvironment and hominid diet in the Middle and Late Pleistocene of China[C]Shen Cet aleds. Current Research in Chinese Pleistocene Archaeology.BAR International Series 1179Oxford:Archaeopress2003:37-56.

[68] Liu WuGao FengZheng Liang. The diet analysis from tooth size and Morphology or Yuanmou hominoidsYunnan ProvinceChina [J]. Anthropological Science2002110: 149-163.

[69] Bentley R A. Strontium isotopes from the Earth to the archaeological skeleton: A review [J]. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory200613: 135-187.

[70] Tong HaowenShang HongZhang Shuangquanet al. The finding of hominid site in Tianyuan caveZhoukoudianBeijing [J]. Chinese Science Bulletin2004499: 893-898. [同号文,尚虹,张双权,等. 周口店田园洞古人类遗址的发现[J]. 科学通报,2004499):893-898.]

[71] Wu Xinzhi. On the origin of modern humans in China [J]. Quaternary International2004117:131-140.

[72] Tong Peihua. Preliminary study on primitive agriculture in Haidai area [C]Oriental Archaeology Research Centre of Shandong Universityeds. Oriental Archaeology2nd editon. Jinan: Shandong University Press2006:45-52.[佟佩华. 海岱地区原始农业初探[C]山东大学东方考古中心编.东方考古(第二辑).济南:山东大学出版社,2006:45-52.]

No Suggested Reading articles found!