Paleoanthropology

  • Palaeolithic and Mesolithic kill-butchering sites: the hard evidence

  • Environment and Behavior of 2.5-Million-Year-Old Bouri Hominids - SciHub Full PDF 6 Page pdf

  • Impact of meat and Lower Palaeolithic food processing techniques on chewing in humans.

    Abstract

    The origins of the genus Homo are murky, but by H. erectus, bigger brains and bodies had evolved that, along with larger foraging ranges, would have increased the daily energetic requirements of hominins. Yet H. erectus differs from earlier hominins in having relatively smaller teeth, reduced chewing muscles, weaker maximum bite force capabilities, and a relatively smaller gut. This paradoxical combination of increased energy demands along with decreased masticatory and digestive capacities is hypothesized to have been made possible by adding meat to the diet, by mechanically processing food using stone tools, or by cooking. Cooking, however, was apparently uncommon until 500,000 years ago, and the effects of carnivory and Palaeolithic processing techniques on mastication are unknown. Here we report experiments that tested how Lower Palaeolithic processing technologies affect chewing force production and efficacy in humans consuming meat and underground storage organs (USOs). We find that if meat comprised one-third of the diet, the number of chewing cycles per year would have declined by nearly 2 million (a 13% reduction) and total masticatory force required would have declined by 15%. Furthermore, by simply slicing meat and pounding USOs, hominins would have improved their ability to chew meat into smaller particles by 41%, reduced the number of chews per year by another 5%, and decreased masticatory force requirements by an additional 12%. Although cooking has important benefits, it appears that selection for smaller masticatory features in Homo would have been initially made possible by the combination of using stone tools and eating meat.

  • Strongest evidence of early humans butchering animals discovered in North Africa

    On a high grassy plateau in Algeria, just 100 kilometers from the Mediterranean Sea, early human ancestors butchered extinct horses, antelopes, and other animals with primitive stone tools 2 million to 2.4 million years ago. The dates, reported today, push back the age of the oldest tools in North Africa by as much as a half a million years and provide new insight into how these protohumans spread across the continent. After 25 years of excavations at the Ain Hanech complex—a dry ravine in Algeria—an international team reports the discovery of about 250 primitive tools and 296 bones of animals from a site called Ain Boucherit. About two dozen animal bones have cut marks that show they were skinned, defleshed, or pounded for marrow. Made of limestone and flint, the sharp-edged flakes and round cores—some the size of tennis balls—resemble those found in east Africa. Both represent the earliest known toolkit, the so-called Oldowan technology, named for the site where they were found 80 years ago at Olduvai in Tanzania. The cut-marked bones represent “the oldest substantive evidence for butchery” anywhere, says paleoanthropologist Thomas Plummer of the City University of New York’s Queens College, who was not involved with the study. Although other sites of this age in east Africa have stone tools, the evidence for actual butchery of animals is not as strong, he says.

  • Humans hunted for meat 2 million years ago: Evidence from ancient butchery site in Tanzania shows early man was capable of ambushing herds up to 1.6 million years earlier than previously thought

  • Evolution: South Africa’s hominin record is a fair-weather friend: New uranium-lead ages for fossil bearing caves change the landscape of human evolution in South Africa

  • Influence of diet on the distribution of nitrogen isotopes in animals

  • Isotopic evidence for an early shift to C4 resources by Pliocene hominins in Chad

    A. bahrelghazali δ13C values range from −0.8 to −4.4‰. They are similar to, but reach slightly lower values than, those of the Alcelaphini, Reduncini, Equidae, Suidae, and Proboscidea from the KT sites (Fig. 2, Table S1). The detailed laser scan data for two of the hominids are given in Table S2. The results indicate a predominance of C4 dietary resources (∼55–80% by linear interpolation). Carbon isotope data alone cannot distinguish whether carbon of C4 origin was from plant or animal sources, but in this case, the high proportions suggest that the primary C4 dietary resources were plant staples. Consumption of animals (e.g., termites, rodents, grazing herbivores) reliant on the abundant C4 vegetation cannot be excluded and they may have formed components of the diet, as inferred for the South African australopithecines (5, 7, 28). Very high proportions of animal food, however, are not plausible for hominins given that even recent humans such as the Kalahari San rely most heavily on plant foods (∼80%) and less on game (29). Moreover, hominins lack the appropriate dental morphology. Therefore, we focus on C4 plants in the discussion below.

    […]

    Whether the A. bahrelghazali individuals relied on C4 grasses or sedges, or both, these resources are seldom consumed (if at all) by most primates.

  • Isotopic Evidence for the Diet of an Early Hominid, Australopithecus africanus Matt Sponheimer, Julia A. Lee-Thorp

    Current consensus holds that the 3-million-year-old hominidAustralopithecus africanus subsisted on fruits and leaves, much as the modern chimpanzee does. Stable carbon isotope analysis ofA. africanus from Makapansgat Limeworks, South Africa, demonstrates that this early hominid ate not only fruits and leaves but also large quantities of carbon-13–enriched foods such as grasses and sedges or animals that ate these plants, or both. The results suggest that early hominids regularly exploited relatively open environments such as woodlands or grasslands for food. They may also suggest that hominids consumed high-quality animal foods before the development of stone tools and the origin of the genus Homo.

    Little is known about the diets of hominids that predate the genus Homo, because they did not leave archaeological traces such as “kitchen middens” and stone tools. Consequently, researchers have made dietary inferences based on craniodental morphology (1–4), gross dental wear (1, 2, 5), and dental microwear (6, 7). Some researchers have stressed the importance of animal foods in the diets of these hominids (1, 8, 9); others have suggested that they were primarily adapted for the consumption of plant foods such as grass seeds and roots (3, 4). The current consensus, however, is that these early hominids ate fleshy fruits and leaves (6, 7, 10, 11). This agrees with evidence that they occupied relatively heavily wooded habitats, not open savannas (12–16). In contrast, there is evidence suggesting that the later hominids (∼2.5 million years ago) Homo and Paranthropusinhabited more open environments (13, 16) and were omnivorous (17–20). Here we provide direct isotopic evidence of the diet of an early hominid, the 3-million-year-old Australopithecus africanus from Makapansgat Limeworks in Northern Province, South Africa (13, 16, 21).

    Previous studies have shown that the ratio of 13C to12C in tooth enamel can be used to provide dietary information about extinct fauna (19, 22). The foundation of this approach is our knowledge of photosynthesis in plants. Trees, bushes, shrubs, and forbs (C3 plants) discriminate more markedly against the heavy 13C isotope during fixation of CO2 than do tropical grasses and sedges (C4 plants). As a result, C3 plants have δ13C values of –22 per mil (‰) to –30‰, with an average of about –26.5‰ (23), whereas C4plants have δ13C values of –10 to –14‰, with an average of about –12.5‰ (24, 25). Animals incorporate their food’s carbon into their tooth enamel with some additional fractionation (26). Hence, the relative proportions of C3 and C4 vegetation in an animal’s diet can be determined by analyzing its tooth enamel with stable isotope mass spectrometry. Animals that eat C3vegetation (including fruits, leaves, and the roots of trees, bushes, and forbs) have δ13C values between about –10 and –16‰; animals that eat C4 tropical grasses (including blades, seeds, and roots) have δ13C values between 2 and –2‰; and mixed feeders that eat both fall somewhere in between these two extremes. Carnivores have tooth enamel δ13C values similar to those of their prey (26).

    Analysis of variance shows that the δ13C values forA. africanus are significantly different from the values for grazers, browsers, and mixed feeders from Makapansgat (P < 0.01) (Table 1). The only taxon from which they are not significantly different is the carnivore Hyaena makapani. Three of the four hominid specimens (MLD 12, MLD 28, and MLD 30) fall outside the range of C3 (fruit, herb, or leaf) feeders at Makapansgat. MLD 30 is so enriched in 13C (–5.6‰) that it falls closer to the mean of the grazers than of the browsers. The δ13C values for these specimens are inconsistent with a diet of fruits and leaves (C3 plants). One specimen (MLD 41), however, does fall within the range of C3 eaters. These data show that (i) A. africanus had a highly variable diet (its range of δ13C values is greater than 18 of the 19 other taxa analyzed), and (ii) the majority of the Makapansgat hominids habitually obtained dietary carbon from C4 plants such as grasses and sedges or from animals that ate C4foods, or both.

    An equally plausible explanation is thatA. africanus had a preference for high-quality animal foods, which included C4 plant-eating insects such asTrinervitermes trinervoides or the young of grazing mammals like R. darti, or both. There is limited evidence to help us decide whether one or both of these alternatives is correct. Researchers comparing the dental microwear of A. africanusand modern primates did not conclude that these hominids ate grasses (6, 7), but these studies included no grass-eating modern primates. A comparison of the dental microwear ofA. africanus and modern Papio populations from open environments, whose diet is 25 to 50% grasses (9), would be ideal, but no such study has been undertaken. Recent research demonstrates, however, that the percentage of pitting versus scratching on the molars of modern T. gelada (∼10%) (35) is different from the percentage previously reported for A. africanus (∼30%) (7). Theropithecus gelada consumes grass blades, seeds, and roots nearly exclusively (9, 30), making it a less than ideal analog for a hominid eating 25 to 50% grass foods. Nonetheless, the large difference in microwear features between Theropithecus andA. africanus suggests that we must seriously consider the possibility that these hominids were 13C-enriched because they consumed animal foods.

    It is believed that the encephalization of early Homo was made possible by the consumption of energy- and nutrient-rich animal foods to “pay” for its metabolically expensive brain (39, 40). Our results raise the possibility, however, that dietary quality improved (through the consumption of animal foods) before the development of Homo (41) and stone tools (42) about 2.5 million years ago. Moreover, trace element (Sr/Ca) (43) and stable carbon isotope analyses (44) do not seem to indicate that earlyHomo from Swartkrans consumed more animal foods than didA. africanus. Therefore, the primary dietary difference between A. africanus and Homo may not have been the quality of their food but their manner of procuring it. One key difference may have been that stone tools allowed Homo to disarticulate bones and exploit bone marrow from large carcasses (obtained through hunting or scavenging) that A. africanuscould not (17, 18, 45).

  • How did Africa's grasslands get started?

  • Synchronous rise of African C4ecosystems 10 million years ago in the absence of aridification

Grasslands expanded globally during the late Cenozoic and the development of these ecosystems shaped the evolution of many faunal groups, including our hominin ancestors. The emergence of these ecosystems has been dated in many regions, but the origins of the iconic African C4 savannah grasslands remain poorly known, as do the causal factors that led to their establishment. Here we document their origins with the distinct carbon isotope signature from the hot-, arid- and low-CO2-adapted C4 grasses that dominate modern savannahs and grasslands. We use the carbon isotope values of leaf-wax molecules in deep-sea drill cores to measure the rise of African C4 ecosystems. We also reconstruct African palaeohydroclimate change from leaf-wax hydrogen isotope values and dust deposition rates in these cores. We find that C4-dominated ecosystems expanded synchronously across Northwestern and East Africa after 10 million years ago. This was not accompanied by substantial changes in palaeohydrology or dust deposition, precluding aridification as a causal factor. The expansion of C4 grasses was coincident, however, with dramatic high-latitude cooling and increased pole–Equator temperature gradients. We suggest that declining atmospheric CO2 levels were a direct cause of the C4 grassland expansion.​

  • Eating Meat Made Us Human, Suggests New Skull Fossil

    Fragments of a 1.5-million-year-old skull from a child recently found in Tanzania suggest early hominids weren’t just occasional carnivores but regular meat eaters, researchers say. The finding helps build the case that meat-eating helped the human lineage evolve large brains, scientists added.

    “I know this will sound awful to vegetarians, but meat made us human,” said researcher Manuel Domínguez-Rodrigo, an archaeologist at Complutense University in Madrid. These findings suggest that “human brain development could not have existed without a diet based on regular consumption of meat,” Domínguez-Rodrigo said. “Regular consumption of meat at that time implied that humans were hunters by then. Scavenging only rarely provides access to meat and is only feasible in African savannas on a seasonal basis.”

  • CARTA: The Evolution of Human Nutrition - YouTube

  • Out of Africa: origins of the Taenia tapeworms in humans.

    Abstract

    Phylogenetic and divergence date analyses indicate that the occurrence of Taenia tapeworms in humans pre-dates the development of agriculture, animal husbandry and domestication of cattle (Bos spp.) or swine (Sus scrofa). Taeniid tapeworms in Africa twice independently colonized hominids and the genus Homo prior to the origin of modern humans. Dietary and behavioural shifts, from herbivory to scavenging and carnivory, as early Homo entered the carnivore guild in the Pliocene/Pleistocene, were drivers for host switching by tapeworms to hominids from carnivores including hyaenids and felids. Parasitological data provide a unique means of elucidating the historical ecology, foraging behaviour and food habits of hominids during the diversification of Homo spp.

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  • Ancestral Health

  • What ancient footprints can tell us about what it was like to be a child in prehistoric times

Paleo Diet

  • A brief review of the archaeological evidence for Palaeolithic and Neolithic subsistence –European Journal of Clinical Nutrition Published: 19 December 2002

  • The paradoxical nature of hunter-gatherer diets:meat-based, yet non-atherogenic - L Cordain 2002

    Method and Results: In this review we have analyzed the 13 known quantitative dietary studies of HG and demonstrate thatanimal food actually provided the dominant (65%) energy source, while gathered plant foods comprised the remainder (35%).This data is consistent with a more recent, comprehensive review of the entire ethnographic data (n¼ 229 HG societies) thatshowed the mean subsistence dependence upon gathered plant foods was 32%, whereas it was 68% for animal foods. Otherevidence, including isotopic analyses of Paleolithic hominid collagen tissue, reductions in hominid gut size, low activity levels ofcertain enzymes, and optimal foraging data all point toward a long history of meat-based diets in our species. Because increasingmeat consumption in Western diets is frequently associated with increased risk for CVD mortality, it is seemingly paradoxical thatHG societies, who consume the majority of their energy from animal food, have been shown to be relatively free of the signs andsymptoms of CVD.

    Conclusion: The high reliance upon animal-based foods would not have necessarily elicited unfavorable blood lipid profilesbecause of the hypolipidemic effects of high dietary protein (19 – 35% energy) and the relatively low level of dietarycarbohydrate (22 – 40% energy). Although fat intake (28 – 58% energy) would have been similar to or higher than thatfound in Western diets, it is likely that important qualitative differences in fat intake, including relatively high levels of MUFA andPUFA and a lower o-6=o-3 fatty acid ratio, would have served to inhibit the development of CVD. Other dietary characteristicsincluding high intakes of antioxidants, fiber, vitamins and phytochemicals along with a low salt intake may have operatedsynergistically with lifestyle characteristics (more exercise, less stress and no smoking) to further deter the development of CVD

  • A mummy’s final meal adds to an ancient mystery: It consisted mainly of deer and ibex fat

  • “The Red Lady of El Mirón”. Lower Magdalenian life and death in Oldest Dryas Cantabrian Spain: an overview

    Highlights

  • First human burial of Magdalenian age found in Iberia, dated stratigraphically & by C14.

  • A ritualized, reworked burial marked with rock art and red ochre.

  • Skeleton is of a robust adult woman in good health, associated with artifacts, but no obvious grave goods. • Associated with rich Lower Magdalenian lithic and osseous artifact assemblages.

  • Diet dominated by ungulate meat (ibex and red deer) and fish (salmon), but with some plant foods (mushrooms, fungi and seeds).

    Abstract

    This synthesis article summarizes the multidisciplinary evidence and interpretations of the first substantial human burial of Magdalenian age to be discovered on the Iberian Peninsula. A robust, relatively tall, apparently healthy, probably female adult was buried at the rear of the living area in El Mirón Cave in the Cantabrian Cordillera of Spain about 18,700 calendar years ago. She had lived in the cold, open environment of Oldest Dryas, with a subsistence based on hunting mainly ibex and red deer, fishing salmon and some gathering of plants, including some starchy seeds and mushrooms. The technology of her group included the manufacture and use of stone tools and weapon elements made on both excellent-quality non-local flint and local non-flints, as well as antler projectile tips and bone needles. Her burial may have been marked by rock engravings suggestive of a female personage, by red ochre staining of a large block adjacent to her skeleton, and by engravings on the adjacent cave wall, and the burial layer itself was intensely stained with red ochre rich in specular hematite specially obtained from an apparently non-local source. The ochre may constitute the only demonstrable “grave offering”. The grave was partially disturbed by a carnivore of wolf size after the corpse had decomposed. Then, it is hypothesized that the skeleton was covered over again and (re-) stained by humans after they (or the carnivore) had removed the cranium and most of the large long bones.

    Dietary habits are inferred from dental microwear and isotope analyses of the Magdalenian human individual from the site of El Mirón, dated to 15,460 ± 40 BP. The pattern of dental microwear was established on the buccal surface of the lower fourth premolar and on the bottom of facet 9 on the occlusal surface of the lower third molar. The results obtained through analysis of different surfaces are consistent and indicate a mixed diet for this Lower Magdalenian individual, including meat, aquatic resources and vegetables. These results are in agreement with those obtained through isotope analysis. This implies a generalized exploitation of the environment as has been previously established in other Late Upper Palaeolithic specimens.

  • National Geographic: 5,300 Years Ago, Ötzi the Iceman Died. Now We Know His Last Meal.

    • “Together, the diet shows a well-prepared meal, with some fiber, protein and lots of energy-rich fat.”

    • “Tiny flecks of undigested fibers of plants and meat were visible in the sample, surrounded by a cloudy haze of fat”

    • “Lipids and protein analysis indicate that Ötzi was eating both muscle and fat of the ibex (Capra ibex), a goat still common in the Ötztal Alps. The high-fat stomach contents would have supported energy-intensive treks. ‘Even though maybe ibex fat tastes horrible,’ Maixner jokes.”

    • “But curiously, though DNA analysis suggests red deer (Cervus elaphus) was also part of the meal, researchers couldn’t figure out what part of the creature Ötzi ate. One possibility is that he consumed its organs, like the spleen, liver, or brain. Degradation may also be an issue. ‘It’s really hard to say,’ Maixner says.”

    • “They could, however, look at meat preparation. By studying the meat’s microstructures and chemistry and comparing it to modern cooked and uncooked meats, they surmised Ötzi’s meat was not heated above 140 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s most likely the meat was dried for preservation, Maixner says, since fresh meat spoils quickly. The presence of carbon flecks also hint the meat could have been smoked.”

    • “Ötzi also ate einkorn wheat and the toxic bracken fern. When eaten in sufficient doses, bracken has been associated with anemia in cattle, and blindness in sheep. It may also have carcinogenic effects. Yet some people still eat small quantities of the plant.”

    • “’It’s possible Ötzi also indulged in this greenery.’ You can go as far as he might have treated stomach ache with this fern since we knew that he suffered from some stomach pathogens,” says Maixner. But he adds, “this, for me at least, goes a little bit too far.” Another possibility is that he wrapped his food in fern, accidentally ingesting pieces along with his snack—an idea previously proposed for Ötzi’s ingested moss

  • A unique hominin menu dated to 1.95 million years ago

    Research on ancient foragers has tended to focus on their acquisition of large land mammals, but our ancestors in fact exploited a wider range of taxa. Depending on the local environment, this range included tortoises, birds, and hares from terrestrial habitats and mollusks, birds, and fish from aquatic habitats. These small terrestrial animals and aquatic species begin to appear occasionally in the archaeological record during the Middle Pleistocene (<780,000 y ago), occur irregularly until the Late Pleistocene (<130,000 y ago), and are abundant only within the past few tens of thousands of years (1–6). However, the exploitation of these resources in the Plio-Pleistocene has been difficult to detect because relevant samples are rare and have not always been studied in sufficient detail. Recent information on excavations at the 1.95 million-year-old Oldowan site of FwJJ20 in the East Turkana Basin of northern Kenya, published in PNAS, helps fill the void, and research shows that at least some early hominins, enjoyed a varied diet, including aquatic species that were typical of the well-watered surroundings of the site (7). This work highlights the opportunistic nature of early hominin foraging and the importance of sampling as many paleo-habitats as possible as well as the need for thorough analyses of all excavated animal remains.

  • Early hominin diet included diverse terrestrial and aquatic animals 1.95 Ma in East Turkana, Kenya

    The manufacture of stone tools and their use to access animal tissues by Pliocene hominins marks the origin of a key adaptation in human evolutionary history. Here we report an in situ archaeological assemblage from the Koobi Fora Formation in northern Kenya that provides a unique combination of faunal remains, some with direct evidence of butchery, and Oldowan artifacts, which are well dated to 1.95 Ma. This site provides the oldest in situ evidence that hominins, predating Homo erectus, enjoyed access to carcasses of terrestrial and aquatic animals that they butchered in a well-watered habitat. It also provides the earliest definitive evidence of the incorporation into the hominin diet of various aquatic animals including turtles, crocodiles, and fish, which are rich sources of specific nutrients needed in human brain growth. The evidence here shows that these critical brain-growth compounds were part of the diets of hominins before the appearance of Homo ergaster/erectus and could have played an important role in the evolution of larger brains in the early history of our lineage.

  • Early human use of marine resources and pigment in South Africa during the Middle Pleistocene

    Abstract

    Genetic and anatomical evidence suggests that Homo sapiens arose in Africa between 200 and 100 thousand years (kyr) ago1,2, and recent evidence indicates symbolic behaviour may have appeared ∼135–75 kyr ago3,4. From 195–130 kyr ago, the world was in a fluctuating but predominantly glacial stage (marine isotope stage MIS6)5; much of Africa was cooler and drier, and dated archaeological sites are rare6,7. Here we show that by ∼164 kyr ago (±12 kyr) at Pinnacle Point (on the south coast of South Africa) humans expanded their diet to include marine resources, perhaps as a response to these harsh environmental conditions. The earliest previous evidence for human use of marine resources and coastal habitats was dated to ∼125 kyr ago8,9. Coincident with this diet and habitat expansion is an early use and modification of pigment, probably for symbolic behaviour, as well as the production of bladelet stone tool technology, previously dated to post-70 kyr ago10,11,12. Shellfish may have been crucial to the survival of these early humans as they expanded their home ranges to include coastlines and followed the shifting position of the coast when sea level fluctuated over the length of MIS6.

  • Homo sapiens developed a new ecological niche that separated it from other hominins - New study argues that the greatest defining feature of our species is not ‘symbolism’ or dramatic cognitive change but rather its unique ecological position as a global ‘general specialist’

  • Bronze Age population dynamics and the rise of dairy pastoralism on the eastern Eurasian steppe

    Since the Bronze Age, pastoralism has been a dominant subsistence mode on the Western steppe, but the origins of this tradition on the Eastern steppe are poorly understood. Here we investigate a putative early pastoralist population in northern Mongolia and find that dairy production was established on the Eastern steppe by 1300 BCE. Milk proteins preserved in dental calculus indicate an early focus on Western domesticated ruminants rather than local species, but genetic ancestry analysis indicates minimal admixture with Western steppe herders, suggesting that dairy pastoralism was introduced through adoption by local hunter-gatherers rather than population replacement.

  • “Wild Field” Manifest by Zimov S.A.

  • Guts and Grease: The Diet of Native Americans 2000 BY SALLY FALLON AND MARY G. ENIG, PHD

  • Pleistocene Homo sapiens from Middle Awash, Ethiopia. 2003 - White

    Abstract The origin of anatomically modern Homo sapiens and the fate of Neanderthals have been fundamental questions in human evolutionary studies for over a century. A key barrier to the resolution of these questions has been the lack of substantial and accurately dated African hominid fossils from between 100,000 and 300,000 years ago. Here we describe fossilized hominid crania from Herto, Middle Awash, Ethiopia, that fill this gap and provide crucial evidence on the location, timing and contextual circumstances of the emergence of Homo sapiens. Radioisotopically dated to between 160,000 and 154,000 years ago, these new fossils predate classic Neanderthals and lack their derived features. The Herto hominids are morphologically and chronologically intermediate between archaic African fossils and later anatomically modern Late Pleistocene humans. They therefore represent the probable immediate ancestors of anatomically modern humans. Their anatomy and antiquity constitute strong evidence of modern-human emergence in Africa.

Modern Hunter Gatherers

  • Hunter-gatherers as models in public health

    Hunter-gatherer populations are remarkable for their excellent metabolic and cardiovascular health and thus are often used as models in public health, in an effort to understand the root, evolutionary causes of non-communicable diseases. Here, we review recent work on health, activity, energetics and diet among hunter-gatherers and other small-scale societies (e.g. subsistence farmers, horticulturalists and pastoralists), as well as recent fossil and archaeological discoveries, to provide a more comprehensive perspective on lifestyle and health in these populations. We supplement these analyses with new data from the Hadza, a hunter-gatherer population in northern Tanzania. Longevity among small-scale populations approaches that of industrialized populations, and metabolic and cardiovascular disease are rare. Obesity prevalence is very low (<5%), and mean body fat percentage is modest (women: 24–28%, men: 9–18%). Activity levels are high, exceeding 100 min d1 of moderate and vigorous physical activity, but daily energy expenditures are similar to industrialized populations. Diets in hunter-gatherer and other small-scale societies tend to be less energy dense and richer in fibre and micronutrients than modern diets but are not invariably low carbohydrate as sometimes argued. A more integrative understanding of hunter-gatherer health and lifestyle, including elements beyond diet and activity, will improve public health efforts in industrialized populations.

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