The 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.
Oook, Oook! Let’s read on:
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.
We’re intelligently designed biters! The creationist blogs will be all over this one. We continue:
These results also explain the apparent inconsistency of very thick tooth enamel in modern humans – a feature typically associated with high bite forces in other species. Thick enamel and large human tooth roots are well adapted to take high loads when biting.
Additional evidence for intelligent design! But wait, there’s more:
These result calls into question previous suggestions that the evolution of a less robust skull in modern humans involved a trade-off for a weaker bite or was necessarily a response to behavioural changes, such as switching to softer foods or more processing of foods with tools and cooking. It has also been suggested that human jaw muscles were reduced to make way for a larger brain.
“However plausible those ideas may seem they have been based on very little by way of comparative data: for example, there are no actual records of bite force collected from living members of any other ape species, ” says Dr Wroe. “It turns out that we don’t have a wimpish bite at all – it is very efficient and powerful.
This is Dr. Stephen Wroe’s website. He also says:
“We’ve only looked at two extinct hominins in this study, but, for our size, we humans are comparable in terms of maximum bite force to these fossil species, which include ‘nutcracker man’, renowned for its particularly massive skull and jaw muscles. Size matters, but efficiency matters more – and humans are very efficient biters.
This study can be quote-mined in a few different ways. The creationists love it when older ideas get challenged — except for their own ideas, of course. Each time something new is learned, they take it as yet another showing that the scientists were wrong.
Creationists should be posting their distortions rather soon. We’ll let you know.
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