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Mmmm, that's crunchy

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1:57pm, November 8, 2005

From Mesa, Ariz., at a meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology

Analysis of isotopes in the teeth of otters and mongooses from Africa have led one paleontologist to suggest that some of humanity's ancient kin shared those modern animals' preference for shelled prey such as freshwater crabs and snails.

The eating habits of ancient hominids known as robust australopithecines have been a matter of debate for decades. These creatures, which are typically lumped into the genus Paranthropus, roamed the African landscape side by side with human ancestors for more than 1 million years—a sign that the two lineages were exploiting different resources, says Alan B. Shabel of the University of California, Berkeley.

Researchers previously suggested that the two lineages could coexist because early Homo species were increasingly eating meat, while robust australopithecines were vegetarians. The teeth of the latter creatures were apparen

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