Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Study: Human Bite Stronger Than Ape's

human biteThe robust jaws and formidable teeth of some of our ancestors and ape cousins may suggest that humans are wimps when it comes to producing a powerful bite: but a new study has found the opposite is true, with major implications for our understanding of diet in ancestral humans.

The surprise findings suggest that early modern humans did not necessarily need to use tools and cooking to process high-nutrient hard foods, such as nuts - and perhaps less tough foods such as meat - but may have lost an ability to eat very tough items, such as tubers or leaves.

In the first comparison of its kind, Australian researchers have found that the lightly built human skull has a far more efficient bite than those of the chimp, gorilla and orang-utan, and of two prehistoric members of our family, Australopithecus africanus and Paranthropus boisei.

They found that modern humans can achieve relatively high bite forces using less-powerful jaw muscles. In short, the human skull does not have to be as robust because, for any given bite force, the sum of forces acting on the human skull is much less.


Full story here.
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