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Dr. Peter Ungar, University of Arkansas

October 1 @ 3:00 pm - 4:15 pm MDT

photo of Dr. UngarEvolution’s Bite: Reconstructing Diet and Human Evolution

Presented by Dr. Peter Ungar, Distinguished Professor and Director of Environmental Dynamics, University of Arkansas


Fossil teeth can help us understand life in the past. They are the only parts of the digestive
system to preserve over deep time, and so allow us to reconstruct diets of extinct primates and our
distant ancestors. This presentation will summarize the two basic categories of evidence: adaptive lines
(e.g., tooth size, shape and structure), and traces of actual feeding behavior (e.g., isotopic composition
of enamel and microscopic use wear). Adaptive evidence and foodprints teach us something about
what our ancestors were capable of eating and what specific individuals in the past actually ate on a
daily basis. Combining the two lines of evidence provides the clearest picture we have of food choice in
the past, and how this relates to our evolution. The focus of this talk will be on how we characterize and
compare tooth shape and wear, with special consideration of the difference between how teeth work
and how they are used by living primates. Examples of what teeth have taught us about the diets of our
distant ancestors will also be given.

More information about Dr. Ungar and his research can be found on his lab website.

Zoom Link:

Meeting ID: 978 4322 8589
Passcode: 220973