Wild Things: Tarantulas, Jellyfish and More...

Hummingbirds, attacking bears, ancient hominids and other news updates in wildlife research

Female Chilean rose tarantula (Grammostola rosea), also known as the Chilean flame tarantula. (John C. Abbott)

Observed

Paranthropus boisei
(Barbara Strnadova / Photo Researchers, Inc.)
Name: Paranthropus boisei, a human relative that lived in East Africa from about 2.3 million to 1.2 million years ago.
Dentition: Its massive jaw and flat molars gave rise to the belief that its diet consisted of nuts, which other nearby primates ate also. Its nickname is “Nutcracker Man.”
Nutrition: A new analysis of carbon isotopes in teeth from 22 individuals strongly suggests that P. boisei ate grasses and sedges instead.
Competition: “It was not competing for food with most other primates,” says Kevin Uno of the University of Utah, a researcher on the new study, “but with grazers”—ancestors of today’s zebras, pigs and hippos.

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