9. Hominin Diets

  1. David R. Begun
  1. Peter S. Ungar and
  2. Matt Sponheimer

Published Online: 14 JAN 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781118332344.ch9

A Companion to Paleoanthropology

A Companion to Paleoanthropology

How to Cite

Ungar, P. S. and Sponheimer, M. (2013) Hominin Diets, in A Companion to Paleoanthropology (ed D. R. Begun), Blackwell Publishing Ltd, Oxford. doi: 10.1002/9781118332344.ch9

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 14 JAN 2013
  2. Published Print: 25 FEB 2013

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781444331165

Online ISBN: 9781118332344



  • ecological models;
  • fossil evidence;
  • fossil hominins;
  • hominin diets;
  • hominin teeth


This chapter summarizes briefly the major approaches that paleoanthropologists take to reconstruct the diets of early hominins. The approaches include analyses of the hominin fossils, evidence from coprolites, plant microfossils adherent to hominin teeth, the remains of animals and plants in hominin-bearing deposits, and models using ecological principles derived from the study of modern plants and primates. New approaches, such as parasite relationships, microbial ecology, and comparative genomics offer additional glimpses into the diets of our distant ancestors. The chapter briefly touches on the “state of the science” for each of the approaches, and points to some possible future directions. This is intended only to introduce the approaches that paleoanthropologists take to reconstruct the diets of fossil hominins, rather than an exposition of knowledge of hominin diets.