, Volume 8, Issue 4, pp 371-387

Bears, pigs, and Plio-Pleistocene hominids: A case for the exploitation of belowground food resources

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Abstract

Belowground plant parts were important potential food resources in the habitats associated with Pliocene and early Pleistocene hominids. The food gathering and dental adaptations of three groups of modem mammals — bears, pigs, and humans — testify to the earlier convergence of these animals on this resource. Since belowground food reserves are relatively unaffected by the factors controlling aboveground food supply (fire, drought, and grazing stress), exploitation of this stable nutritional bank had distinct energetic and behavioral advantages for hominids.