The Early Hominid Plant-Food Niche: Insights From an Analysis of Plant Exploitation by Homo, Pan, and Papio in Eastern and Southern Africa [and Comments and Reply]
African plant-food genera exploited by Homo, Pan, and Papio have been catalogued and analyzed to provide an estimation of the size and composition of the fundamental plant-food niche of the early hominids. Results to date include recognition of more than 100 widely distributed African plant genera which are the best known candidates for plant-food exploitation by the Plio/Pleistocene hominids of eastern and southern Africa. An analysis of staples reveals that fruits would be the most common type of plant part contributing to the early hominid plant-food diet. Six plant genera (four providing edible fruits) are the first genera to be identified as members of the most probable early-hominid fundamental plant-food niche. Potential interspecies competition for plant-food staples has also been estimated. It is highly significant and must be considered in models predicting the realized niche of these primates and the early hominids.