But, Craig B. Stanford of the University of Southern California (USC) hastens to add that our earliest ancestors weren't "buying cartons of eggs from the market," and probably ate many more raw vegetables, fruits and lean meats than today's heavy-protein advocates.
Stanford concedes that studying our ancestors' lifestyles may not provide concrete diet tips for today's weight-conscious humans. But, he said, we may gain fundamental insights to our origins, and thus, our behaviors, by investigating the fossil record.
The results of a nine-year field study of mountain gorillas living with chimps in Uganda offer intriguing new clues to the evolution of the modern human diet, Stanford said. The late Dian Fossey's studies of "gorillas in the mist" may have left many laypeople with the impression that gorillas are docile, cow-like creatures who favor leaves, while meaty foods are left to high-energy chimps. Fossey's gorillas, however, lived in a cold, wet, volcanic region of Africa and had little access to meat, Stanford explained. In more typical environments, he said, gorillas compete aggressively with chimps for available meat sources, and offer useful clues to the dietary adaptations of our early hominid ancestors.
Increased meat consumption triggered genetic changes that allowed early humans to eat more fatty foods without developing heart disease, according to work by Stanford and gerontologist Caleb Finch of USC.
Today, Peter Lucas of George Washington University said at the AAAS Meeting, children with too many crooked teeth in a small jaw may have evolution to thank, as tool use and cooking have reduced food-parti