Last updated June 21, 2018 at 1:36 pm
Early humans adapted to a tropical lifestyle.
Dried meats and palm plants may have been on the menu for the earliest hunter-gathers in Asia.
That’s the conclusion of researchers from the University of NSW, who used modern Uranium-series dating techniques to analyse three human jawbones found in the Niah Caves in Sarawak in 1957.
Project leader David Curnoe and colleagues estimate that one is 28-30,000 years old, and the others at least 11,000 and 10,000 years old.
The old one is smaller and more robust, and they suggest it was subject to strain that could have been caused by consuming tough or dried meats or palm plants, a diet that has previously been identified in the caves.
Little is known about the early hunter-gatherer populations that lived in island Southeast Asia, because human remains from the Late Pleistocene-early Holocene era are extremely rare.
The researchers say their study helps provide insight into the diet of ancient people living near tropical rainforests, a region which has been previously identified as facing economic difficulties.
“These early modern humans were seemingly adapted to a difficult life in the tropical rainforests with their very small bodies and ruggedly built jaws from chewing really tough foods,” Curnoe said. “They tell us a lot about the challenges faced by the earliest people living in island Southeast Asia.”
The paper published in PLOS ONE.