Were insects a major food source for early humans?

Julie Lesnik with termites for sale in South Africa

Insects, specifically termites, could have accounted for almost half the diet of hominins about 1.8 million years ago, according to researchers at Heriot Watt-University in the UK and Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan.

The researchers discovered that the carbon signature of fossil insects in an ancient termite nest matched the carbon signature of fossil hominin teeth found at the site.

“Insects are an important food source for billions of people in the world today but researchers tend to ignore this food source when reconstructing past diets,” said Wayne State’s Julie Lesnik. “We now know that hominids at Olduvai would have been living alongside the exact type of termites that are preferred as food today and that they were likely too valuable of a food source to be passed up.”


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