Plant foods and foraging decisions in human evolution

Science in Archaeology Lunch Talks (SALT)
20 February 2017

Speaker: Dr. Amanda Henry (Leiden University)

Abstract: Plant foods were vital components of the diets of our ancestors and relatives, providing essential nutrients and significant calories. Unlike foods from animal sources, plant foods are often invisible in the archaeological record, and we are only just beginning to develop the methods needed to recover information about the vegetable component of the diet. Knowing which foods were chosen provides only half of the story, however, since these choices reflect complex interactions among individuals, the group, and the surrounding habitats. Models derived from a behavioral ecology framework can help us understand which factors were driving the dietary choices made by hominins. In other words, we can begin to understand why they ate what they ate.

About the speaker: Dr. Henry only recently joined the Faculty of Archaeology, and will be working here on her ERC starting grant project, HARVEST. Prior to this, she was an independent research group leader at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. Her research focuses closely on the role of plant foods in human evolution, and how a behavioral ecology framework can help explain the foraging choices made by our ancestors.