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180k-Year-Old Mutation Allowed Humans To Become Vegetarians, Move Out of Africa

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the i-don't-eat-greens-food-eats-greens dept.

Science 342

An anonymous reader writes "Early humans were able to move from Africa after a single genetic mutation allowed them to become vegetarians, scientists claim. The switch, which allowed humans to process vegetables, meant that humans were able to move away from water sources and spread across the continent. A team of geneticists compared DNA sequences from a variety of people around the world to see how different populations relate to one another and when they have gone their separate ways. The scientists found that a key genetic variant gave humans the ability to convert fats from plants into essential nutrients for the brain."

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I used to be a meat eater like you... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41414771)

...but then I got an arrow to my DNA...

Vegetarian? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41414775)

Wouldn't that be omnivores?

Re:Vegetarian? (5, Informative)

preaction (1526109) | about 2 years ago | (#41414867)

We were already omnivores, this allowed us to not be required to eat certain foods (fish and shellfish), so we could survive away from the sources for those.

Re:Vegetarian? (4, Informative)

shutdown -p now (807394) | about 2 years ago | (#41414889)

No, humans were omnivores before, same as other primates. Omnivore means having a diet of both meat and plants, both in large quantities. It doesn't mean that you can survive on either just meat or just plants alone. Indeed, most omnivores require a mix of meat and plants for the diet to be healthy.

So far as I can see, this mutation is not truly vegetarian, either - it lets us reduce meat consumption in favor of plants, but not replace it entirely.

Re:Vegetarian? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41415637)

It actually let us replace meat completely. Take it from a vegan developer.

Re:Vegetarian? (-1, Troll)

shutdown -p now (807394) | about 2 years ago | (#41415659)

If you're a vegan, I hope for your own sake that you take various (artificially produced) supplements - there's no way to obtain all the necessary nutrients from a purely vegan diet if it's purely natural.

Ovo-lacto vegetarians, now, they can get away with it.

Re:Vegetarian? (1)

WhitePanther5000 (766529) | about 2 years ago | (#41415739)

So far as I can see, this mutation is not truly vegetarian, either - it lets us reduce meat consumption in favor of plants, but not replace it entirely.

It is quite possible to be healthy today as a vegetarian or as an omnivore - it just requires a bit of planning either way. So I don't understand the "but not replace it entirely" portion of your statement.

Re:Vegetarian? (1, Insightful)

kenp2002 (545495) | about 2 years ago | (#41415043)

Sshhh! We're trying to push lifestyles and agendas here people, thinking is not allowed.

It's to generate more page views (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41415255)

The headline is flamebait. The editors know the Slashdot nerds will see the term "vegetarian," become furious, and click on the article, and post furious posts, which will generate more furious posts and more page views. Profit!

Re:It's to generate more page views (5, Funny)

aevan (903814) | about 2 years ago | (#41415401)

You had me up until 'click on the article'

Re:It's to generate more page views (1)

mister_playboy (1474163) | about 2 years ago | (#41415503)

By article, he means the discussion in which we have both posted, not the external article.

His analysis is accurate.

Re:It's to generate more page views (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41415559)

I am the AC that posted that, and yes, I meant this Slashdot article/discussion in which we are posting. Sorry.

Re:Vegetarian? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41415289)

It permitted them to become vegetarians or omnivores (to be even more pedantic). If no meat were available then with this mutation they could in fact survive entirely on vegetables, as stated in the title of the article.

I knew it (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41414795)

Vegetarians are more evolved than meat-eaters.

Re:I knew it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41414819)

More like MUTANTS!

And the fundies say... (-1, Flamebait)

Moheeheeko (1682914) | about 2 years ago | (#41414797)

...NO, God just went CLICK

Re:And the fundies say... (1)

Tr3vin (1220548) | about 2 years ago | (#41415155)

If you are going to go from a biblical standpoint then you should know that all of creation ate only vegetables until the fall of man. If you being critical you should at least know what you are poking fun at.

Re:And the fundies say... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41415335)

There was only one apple tree, the rest all grew bacon, which is why after Adam and Eve pissed Him off, God banned it.

Re:And the fundies say... (1)

Dishevel (1105119) | about 2 years ago | (#41415649)

Mmmm. Bacon trees!
It really was heaven on earth.

Re:And the fundies say... (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 2 years ago | (#41415449)

If you are going to go from a biblical standpoint then you should know that all of creation ate only vegetables until the fall of man.

And if you disagree, Chuck Norris will kick your butt.

and this is why the stereotype exists (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41414809)

African Americans love Chicken

I knew it (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41414821)

So vegetarians are mutants and humans are originally meat-eaters?

Re:I knew it (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41414923)

Vegetarians are more advanced on the evolutionary ladder than meat-eaters.

Humans are "originally" single-celled organisms. A mountain of mutations has made us what we are today: vegetarians.

Have fun being confined to wildlife preserves, you un-evolved carnivorous simian!

Re:I knew it (1)

hazah (807503) | about 2 years ago | (#41415113)

We are omnivores.

Re:I knew it (1)

sconeu (64226) | about 2 years ago | (#41415199)

What do the Mantas [wikipedia.org] have to say about this?

Re:I knew it (1)

trollboy (46578) | about 2 years ago | (#41415207)

Until I eat you. Jurassic Park anyone?

Wait a sec.... (-1, Troll)

macbeth66 (204889) | about 2 years ago | (#41414827)

I thought that all of creation was a mere 6,000 years old. Or so. Oh my, I guess a lot of Anthropology and Geology books will have to be re-written.

Re:Wait a sec.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41415041)

Don't joke, SK is talking about putting creationism in theirs, and if you go look at how many of the current manhwas are religion oriented (albeit a weird mix of Christian, Eastern and Western mythos), you might be scared.

Re:Wait a sec.... (0)

macbeth66 (204889) | about 2 years ago | (#41415137)

I can't sit idly by while the fundies ride rough-shod over reality.

Land bridge to California? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41414835)

That's where they settled.

Sooper smaht. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41414837)

Stick peas in your ear.

is it a mutation? (2, Interesting)

Sebastopol (189276) | about 2 years ago | (#41414845)

I'm always sensitive to any claims of "mutation X gave humans power Y" because mutations are so rarely beneficial, the majority of evolution comes from sexual inheritance and selection pressure.

So how do they know it was a mutation? Its not like suddenly humans got a hunkering for plants one day. It had to happen gradually, so this gene must have been kicking around for ages, and must have appeared in multiple tribes; one mutated birth isn't going to suddenly diffuse across an entire species.

Basically, I don't understand this article.

Any experts out there want to demystify this for me a little more? How one random gene in one birth suddenly afflicts an entire population?

Re:is it a mutation? (2)

SQLGuru (980662) | about 2 years ago | (#41414907)

Mutation just means a change. The first person with Attribute Z was the mutation. Breeding happened. The trait was inherited. More breeding happened. etc. If the mutation was beneficial or preferential, it spread faster. If it was detrimental, it spread slower or disappeared.

Skin color, hair color, eye color ---- all mutations from whatever was original (probably dark for all three).

Re:is it a mutation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41415495)

light skin, brown hair and brown eyes is probably the "most original". Animals don't need dark skin if they are covered with hair. The skin became darker when the hair growth thinned out.

Re:is it a mutation? (2)

postbigbang (761081) | about 2 years ago | (#41415565)

The ostensible mutation might have helped humans digest plant proteins... but stomach flora has a lot to do with uptake. Until more is known about the relationship between the two, I'll listen to the premise and wonder aloud how gut flora combined with the mutation to provide a systematic result.

Until then, I think it's clever spaghetti against the wall.

Re:is it a mutation? (2)

snadrus (930168) | about 2 years ago | (#41414965)

One mutated birth who gets to eat vastly better than the rest of the tribe (as-in not dumb skin & bones) equals likely diffusion. Breeding with the strong, smart (brain nutrients from article), well-fed-looking one becomes very likely.

Re:is it a mutation? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41415329)

But today, the lower educated usually have more children than the higher educated, and have them at a lower age.
So the genes for smartness and the social factors for good wealth will slowly be overwhelmed by dumb and incapble masses.

Re:is it a mutation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41415479)

Are they really so smart if they allowed themselves to be overwhelmed?

Re:is it a mutation? (2)

sjames (1099) | about 2 years ago | (#41415535)

Perhaps we're seeing the evolution of social equality. The old guard (who may well NOT be smarter, just better positioned by their parents) does all it can to expand the divide and then gets out-bread and finally eliminated. If they were REALLY smart, they'd be all about reducing the divide between rich and poor so the poor wouldn't out-breed them so quickly.

Re:is it a mutation? (5, Informative)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 2 years ago | (#41415011)

We'll go in order...

mutations are so rarely beneficial

The vast majority of the mutations that are widespread through the population are either benign or beneficial. The ones that aren't don't stick around in the gene pool long enough to become widespread. It's the other half of the selection pressure you mentioned: The selection pressure culls bad mutations out quickly, so the good (or at least ineffective ones) are all that's left. This is definitely a case of history being written by the victors: The bad mutations don't usually stick around long enough to be noticed (in long-term history).

So how do they know it was a mutation?

Because some folks have it, and other folks don't. From the geographic distribution of where the haves and have-nots are, combined with the prevailing theories about human movements, the researchers can estimate what genetic group first got the change.

one mutated birth isn't going to suddenly diffuse across an entire species.

It doesn't happen suddenly. That one mutation spreads through one family, who suddenly has the ability to survive without eating fish (substituting vegetables, instead). Over the next thousand years or so, that family (and the associated mutation) spread across the local region, and the knowledge of "it's okay to eat vegetables" spread with it. Since that group could wander further (carrying longer-lasting vegetables rather than fish), they spread farther than other groups, until they eventually became dominant.

How one random gene in one birth suddenly afflicts an entire population?

Just to be clear, it doesn't. The one random change will be in one family line, and only really become widespread if it allows the family to outgrow the rest of the population, or if the the rest of the population dies off.

Re:is it a mutation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41415225)

It's really quite a ridiculous narrative when you actually factor in how the human family tree has so radically contracted and spread and then recontracted with time. You pretty much have to ignore everything we know about tribal humans to make it work right, but there you have it! If we ignore all observation, we can actually subscribe to such a red herring!

Re:is it a mutation? (2)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 2 years ago | (#41415465)

What's so ridiculous about it? It's important to note that many factors in human population changes are not genetic - the genes just come along for the ride. Natural disasters, politics, and climate force people to mingle and move, and the good (or at least not-too-bad) genes get passed on every time a male gets close enough to a female.

Re:is it a mutation? (2)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | about 2 years ago | (#41415627)

This one story about one mutation may be right or wrong. but in general thats how mutations spread across populations. If you don't want to believe in evolution because it contradicts your faith or something thats fine, but don't waste our time trying to tell us we're doing science wrong.

Re:is it a mutation? (1)

Old Wolf (56093) | about 2 years ago | (#41415623)

If not everybody picked up the mutation then how can we all survive on veges alone today?

Re:is it a mutation? (5, Informative)

SecurityTheatre (2427858) | about 2 years ago | (#41415175)

Basically, I don't understand this article.

The problem isn't the article. It's your limited understanding of evolution and genetics. :-)

According to modern evolutionary theory, mutations create ALL change. Most mutations don't do something favourable, or really actually probably don't do anything at all, but some of them are favourable and those individuals go onto spread that gene more effectively than their peers until many many generations later, this gene has spread throughout the species (or the region, or the tribe, etc).

If a tribe of ancient humans gradually gained the ability to survive without meat, and a major event such as volcanic eruption or something killed off the local food staple, the tribe that could survive for years without meat might be the only survivors in the entire area. If the species is isolate to that area, they could plausibly be the only survivors of the species.

In this way it is actually possible for the entire species to gain a trait in just a few generations. Or, a mutation can gradually make its way into cultures in a more limited sense.

For example, genetic analysis suggests that ALL blue eyed individuals are descendants from a single individual with a unique mutation about 6-10,000 years ago. People with brown eyes have a huge variety of genes that affect pigmentation, whereas all individuals with blue eyes have a very specific sequence that controls it, which, along with mitochondrial DNA surveys, leads researchers to conclude the bit about a single individual.

Pretty cool, eh?

Re:is it a mutation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41415429)

Of course today this process no longer is effective.
When a mutation causes something that is less favourable, e.g. reduced fertility, it originally would have meant that individual had less offspring and the mutation would die off.
But today the individual gets treatment, the fertility problem is circumvented by artificial methods, and the mutation will continue into offspring.

Also, smarter people "cleverly plan their lives" and have few children at a late age, while dumber people become pregnant as teens and have lots of children.
This favours the propagation of genes that result in less clever people.

Re:is it a mutation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41415667)

> Also, smarter people "cleverly plan their lives" and have few children at a late age, while dumber people become pregnant as teens and have lots of children. This favours the propagation of genes that result in less clever people.

Don't be so depressive.

Smart people with strong reproductive impulse may find a way to reproduce earlier, while dumber people may have a hard time at gathering enough resources to "build a nest". Also, essentially, if mankind would become dumber through the ages we would never have an accelerating civilization... it's almost as if kids are bound to be smarter than their parents...

(This is unrelated to any individual or organization, being just my own manner of see things -- someone who had children at a quite advanced age, btw).

Re:is it a mutation? (2, Informative)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about 2 years ago | (#41415605)

According to modern evolutionary theory, mutations create ALL change.

Caveat: this is only true if you define "mutation" very broadly. Usually, when biologists say "mutation," it means a change in the DNA sequence, but we're learning more and more about heritable non-sequence changes (this usually goes under the name "epigenetics") which can also affect phenotype, and thus have an evolutionary impact. It's still true as far as we know that most heritable changes are sequence changes, but by no means all.

At some point we're going to have to adapt our vocabulary to deal with this, perhaps by returning to the old meaning of "gene" as "a unit of inheritance" and expanding the meanings of "mutation," "expression," and related terms accordingly. It hasn't happened yet, because the accepted meanings have served us well for 50+ years, and technical jargon is often, quite reasonably, very resistant to change.

Re:is it a mutation? (1, Interesting)

kasperd (592156) | about 2 years ago | (#41415253)

I think the question to ask is which came first, the meat-eaters or the plant-eaters? And how many times have meat-eaters evolved into plant-eaters, and vice versa? Maybe humans have ancestors even further back which were also plant-eaters? Could it be that most of the DNA required was already there and just needed a small mutation to become useful again? (There is some discussion as to how much of the DNA is really historical parts that could become active again, and how much is actually responsible for who what we are today.)

Re:is it a mutation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41415471)

Its not like suddenly humans got a hunkering for plants one day.

This gene didn't make them eat plants, they already ate nuts and berries and whatever. This gene let people who had it live on nuts and berries and whatever when the hunters came home empty-handed.

Re:is it a mutation? (4, Informative)

circletimessquare (444983) | about 2 years ago | (#41415485)

"one mutated birth isn't going to suddenly diffuse across an entire species."

you're right:

1. what happens is those without the mutation die or have less children or no children, or are confined to one small environmental niche
2. while those with the mutation live longer or have more children or move over a wider range taking advantage of a wider range of food

and you're wrong:

1. it could start with one single mutation in one individual
2. it does diffuse across an entire species: that's what sex is for
3. it does happen suddenly, on the time scale of geological time

Re:is it a mutation? (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about 2 years ago | (#41415531)

mutations are so rarely beneficial, the majority of evolution comes from sexual inheritance and selection pressure

If mutation weren't in there as a factor as well, we'd all still be single-celled organisms swimming around in the primordial soup. Or we wouldn't be here at all--one of the many mass extinction events in Earth's history would have wiped out whatever life existed, because there'd be no biodiversity to speak of, no variety of forms to survive and adapt to the new environment. For all we know, this did happen several times in the planet's history before the current tree of life took root.

Vegetarianism :) (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41414851)

Always knew vegetarianism is superior - now I have proof :D

Vegetarians? (3, Interesting)

houghi (78078) | about 2 years ago | (#41414855)

Vegetarians. You keep using that word, but I don't think it means what you think it means.

Re:Vegetarians? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41415197)

I'm a proxy vegetarian via eating grass and corn fed cows!

Re:Vegetarians? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41415249)

Vegetarians. You keep using that word, but I don't think it means what you think it means.

A lot of people don't. The phrase "I'm a vegetarian I only eat [chicken/fish]". Makes me want to slap the stupid out of people.

Re:Vegetarians? (1)

aristotle-dude (626586) | about 2 years ago | (#41415439)

Vegetarians. You keep using that word, but I don't think it means what you think it means.

A lot of people don't. The phrase "I'm a vegetarian I only eat [chicken/fish]". Makes me want to slap the stupid out of people.

No, it is people like you living in the "first" world who think that vegetarians in the "third world" only eat fruits and vegetables. They don't eat red meat because it is too expensive but some do eat fish and poultry when it is available. In the third world, meat is expensive.

Re:Vegetarians? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41415563)

Vegetarians. You keep using that word, but I don't think it means what you think it means.

Re:Vegetarians? (1)

Tarlus (1000874) | about 2 years ago | (#41415679)

Vegetarianism implies that a person has made an explicit choice not to eat meat. I would imagine that the majority of people in "third world" countries who cannot afford the luxury of meat would still eat it, if they could.

Re:Vegetarians? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41415645)

I'm a vegitarian, I don't eat any Bacteria, Protozoa, Chromista, Fungi or Animalia!

This is of course impossible.
So there is no Vegetarians.
QED

Digestion & tooth variation (1)

drkim (1559875) | about 2 years ago | (#41414893)

I wonder what the time parallel is between this mutation in digestion, and the change in human teeth (the addition of 'grinding' teeth for plant products) that allowed for ingestion.

One has to wonder... (1)

Daetrin (576516) | about 2 years ago | (#41414895)

We'll never know (barring the unlikely discovery of Pastwatch like technology) but i really wonder about what happened with the first person who had this mutation and actually made use of it. I mean, if they couldn't process vegetables before they never would have thought of them as a food source, would they? So what caused this one person (or group of people) to change their mind? Was there some kind drought or other disaster that prevented them from finding game to kill, but for some reason there was still vegetable material around and they were just desperate enough to eat anything by that point?

Re:One has to wonder... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41414945)

Maybe the human diet already included some vegetation, but this person (or people) carrying this mutation was able to extract more nutritional value from it, giving them a slight advantage over others who didn't carry the mutation.

Re:One has to wonder... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41414979)

They could process vegetables just fine, the couldn't get essential fats from vegetables, the meat and fish in their diet was providing that.
What likely happened is some process where a significant number of some tribal group gained this mutation through breeding (taking many generations), and an event of some kind cut down back drastically on their normal food sources (animals), whether it was a natural boom/bust cycle of predator/prey populations, or something like a wildfire or drought that killed a lot of their normal food sources. People without the mutation were getting sick and dying, but people with the mutation were able to get enough of the essential fats from the vegetables in their diet that they survived. The fact that they could survive on less/no meat, meant that they could weather poor hunting years better than populations without the mutation, and the populations that could process the fats from vegetables were more fit to survive and gradually overtook the populations without the mutation.

Re:One has to wonder... (1)

snadrus (930168) | about 2 years ago | (#41414993)

I've got kids, I don't wonder. They put everything in their mouths. The 4-year-old's leather shoes are a favorite teething toy for my younger one. Heck in the 1800s people were chewing straw for fun. Things were probably going good, but for one kid, things were doing much better. It would make an interesting story though.

Re:One has to wonder... (1)

Alwin Henseler (640539) | about 2 years ago | (#41415315)

Duh... kids are expensive and time-consuming.

First person to get this gene, and his/her partner simply worked out that with 1/4th the land, they could feed their kids corn, soy & stuff, rather than feeding that to a cow and use the cow's meat to feed their kids.

1/4th the area means 1/2 the length/width, so they didn't have to walk so far, less effort to defend that smaller plot, and could spend more time each day doing nothing (yeah peeps were lazy even back then). Kindergarten math, you know. Oh wait...

More interesting than that... (5, Interesting)

erroneus (253617) | about 2 years ago | (#41414915)

... being able to eat vegetables is not unusual for ANY monkey or ape. What is more if not most interesting is a genetic mutation which allows us to eat grains. Chimpanzees, for example, simply cannot process grains and as far as I have heard humans are the only primates which can.

Re:More interesting than that... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41415003)

what are you talking about? Monkeys eat the donuts I throw at them all the time and they do fine.

*donut: wheat powder fried in oil

Re:More interesting than that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41415131)

Come on! Apes can eat out of the oven white bread.

Re:More interesting than that... (1)

PPH (736903) | about 2 years ago | (#41415415)

That is probably closer to the truth than the 'humans as vegetarians' idea. Both humans and chimpanzees (who's lineage separated much farther back than 180K years) can process plant protein from fruits and nuts. Humans may have developed the ability to supplement their diets from grains, but they still require protein* (animal or plant sources of essential amino acids). So, wherever they went, they needed to encounter the same food stuffs that would sustain a non grain consuming primate. Just a different mix, giving the human genome the advantage.

*The actual vegetarian fad is probably a modern development. Once humans had developed communications and a culture necessary to hand down dietary information (even through religious tradition), they could wean themselves off of animal protein. Even today, the failure to adhere to strict protein replacement supplements renders many vegetarians malnourished**. And they smell funny too (probably due to a resulting amino acid imbalance) if they don't get it just right.

**I wonder if this isn't what killed Michael Duncan Clarke. He went vegetarian a few years back and he looks like he has lived most of his life highly dependent on protein intake. Gandhi (and those with similar physiques) may have been a successful vegetarian due to a life not eating meat and having a metabolism adjusted to it.

Re:More interesting than that... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41415693)

Exactly, we owe our big brains to the energy starch gives us. Very few primates can digest starch while diferent human groups developed civilization the day they domesticaded a starchy plant (rice, corn, potatoes, wheat, etc.)

Vegetarian Propaganda? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41414917)

Wonder what one might find if they followed the money and inclinations of the researchers? Didn't man supposedly descend from apes? Weren't apes mostly vegetarian or omnivores to start with? Thought it was supposed to be tool creation driven intelligence improvements that added/increased the inclusion of meat into the diet for its higher concentration of of proteins etc? Seem to recall that was what I was taught a few decades ago in school.

Oh well, I am not a biologist, archaeologist etc but I am sure there are some here to work on clearing that up some.

I don't understand... (0, Flamebait)

mcgrew (92797) | about 2 years ago | (#41414921)

The switch, which allowed humans to process vegetables, meant that humans were able to move away from water sources and spread across the continent.

Without water there's no plants, without water and plants there are no animals. But it seems to me that the mutation didn't make us herbivores, it made us able to greatly expand our sources of nutrition. We not only could eat meat, but veggies as well.

We're not herbivores, we're omnivores.

Re:I don't understand... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41414985)

Early humans had to eat fish (to obtain DHA for brain growth) until this mutation which required they be immediately near water. After that they could move away from water sources instead of being tethered to them. They were able to become vegetarian at that point (but were still omnivores not herbivores).

Moved away from water? (4, Insightful)

Nyder (754090) | about 2 years ago | (#41414941)

unless they mutated away to live without water, humans did NOT move away from water.

I'm pretty sure they still lived around water. Rivers, Springs, Oases, Wells, whatever, but they needed the water.

But what do i know?

Re:Moved away from water? (5, Funny)

PPH (736903) | about 2 years ago | (#41415025)

They'd have to drink their Scotch neat.

Re:Moved away from water? (2)

udachny (2454394) | about 2 years ago | (#41415271)

You are wrong, it's because you are not actually a human, you are a bunch of letters on my computer screen. We, humans, can survive without any water for months at a time. In fact we don't really even need water at all, it's just a habit from the old times, we live mostly on solid coffee beans and salt. Lots and lots of salt. That's how we fight off the land pyranha as well, they hate salt.

Re:Moved away from water? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41415617)

roman_mir, a pathetic feeb cowering behind a shadow username

YOU ARE NOTHING

Re:Moved away from water? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41415653)

The point about the water sources is probably the lack of animals nearby that one could hunt (gathering at some lake to drink). Humans have a brain and tools, meaning they can access a wider variety of sources of water. And they can build containers to carry some with them.

Oh wait, I get it now... (1)

erroneus (253617) | about 2 years ago | (#41414971)

... okay, prior to being vegetarian-capable, being omnivorous was the fixed state of early humans?

Let's imagine... travelling across the land... probably fleeing from another group in S.Africa who was strong enough to stay and keep their claim to the land they had... and finding themselves increasingly hungry... wild game of any sort becoming more scarce and harder to catch or kill... the ones that didn't adapt, died and didn't produce offspring. The ones that lived passed on whatever capacity to survive without dying of malnutrition. Classic natural selection we're talking about.

But here's the thing. Even today when people try to go vegetarian, some people simply can't make the change without nutritional complications while others are just fine with it.

I don't think ALL humans are equally mutated if you wish to call it that.

Re:Oh wait, I get it now... (4, Informative)

mcgrew (92797) | about 2 years ago | (#41415323)

TFS was worse than the normal FS. First off, the "vegetarian" bit. Now that I've RTFA, we were omnivores, but we needed fish or our brains wouldn't develop propery, so we were stuck living near the ocean. Once we could live without fish we could live anywhere.

It had nothing to do with vegetarians, the sumitter is probably one of those PETA vegan nuts.

Re:Oh wait, I get it now... (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 2 years ago | (#41415467)

but we needed fish or our brains wouldn't develop propery, so we were stuck living near the ocean.

Well, you could need not to live near the ocean, and be stuck without a brain.

Seems to work for me.

can i haz teh dictionary? (5, Informative)

luis_a_espinal (1810296) | about 2 years ago | (#41414989)

How the hell did the original poster went from this

The scientists found that a key genetic variant gave humans the ability to convert fats from plants into essential nutrients for the brain."

To this?

180k-Year-Old Mutation Allowed Humans To Become Vegetarians, Move Out of Africa

People who don't know their scientific terms mis-quote scientific articles. News at 10.

Re:can i haz teh dictionary? (2, Insightful)

Urza9814 (883915) | about 2 years ago | (#41415389)

What's wrong with the summary? We no longer needed to get those nutrients from meat -- we could survive solely on plant life. Therefore, we could become vegetarians.

Re:can i haz teh dictionary? (2)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about 2 years ago | (#41415459)

The point is that the mutation (putatively) allowed humans to survive on a vegetarian diet, when they couldn't do so before. This would be very valuable for a nomadic "hunter-gatherer" lifestyle in times and places where there was plenty to gather but not so much to hunt (or fish, as the case may be).

Re:can i haz teh dictionary? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41415715)

Before the mutation, humans (or proto-humans) still had to eat some meat to get those essential nutrients. After the mutation, they could live on vegetables alone.

Headline wrong (5, Informative)

br00tus (528477) | about 2 years ago | (#41415147)

The Slashdot headline is wrong and the initial website it links to has a wrong headline.

If you read the scientific paper, it says the mutation happened about 85,000 years ago, not 180,000 years ago. This makes it logically consistent with other biological discoveries, archaeological finds etc.

Just Keep Pulling Shit From Your Asses. (-1, Troll)

zenlessyank (748553) | about 2 years ago | (#41415161)

Every month it is more crap to blow out to the masses every time your fundamental evolutionary rules change. It's like watching a liar on trial and seeing him change his story as the judge rolls out the evidence. Until someone can show me how to make atoms out of dead empty space, you need to just accept the fact that there is a Creator, and you owe Him the decency to not insult Him by claiming we just popped out of thin air, or this thing or that thing happened because of some random event. I cannot wait to see the looks on your faces when Judgement Day arrives. Now go love thy brother as yourselves and forgive. PS. For those of you who demand a little more logic then ponder this one. We have an almost nu-numberable amount of life here on our little rock we call Earth. If any Life WAS out there and it was only even 10 minutes earlier in its (evolutionary)life stage, then we would have found it and/or it found us since we have been sending out hardware for 60 years. O yea. THE FUCKING MONKEYS ARE STILL HERE THAT WE SUPPOSEDLY EVOLVED FROM

Re:Just Keep Pulling Shit From Your Asses. (1)

skovnymfe (1671822) | about 2 years ago | (#41415269)

Man I really can't tell if you're serious or not. On one note it seems like you're just spewing shit for the fun of it, but looking at your previous posts, either you're fond of spewing shit or you actually mean what you're saying. Damn.

Re:Just Keep Pulling Shit From Your Asses. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41415291)

i cannot wait to see the look on your face when judgement day arrives and you have been following the wrong imaginary being. pretty sure we'll burn together.

yea!!, and the british.. (2)

tempest69 (572798) | about 2 years ago | (#41415365)

I don't believe that Americans came from the British, because there are still British people. Clearly Americans came from a Creator, and we owe him the decency to stop claiming that many Americans are simply the descendants of Europeans.

right there with you man.

Re:Just Keep Pulling Shit From Your Asses. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41415427)

We didn't evolve from monkeys, we evolved from great apes and our genetic cousins are still around. You should go to talkorigins.org for more information.

Just because *you* don't know something, it doesn't mean "therefore God". And, of all things, your God. Not the different Gods that existed for thousands of years in hundreds of other cultures, no, but your God specifically. Sorry but you need to prove your own theory with evidence including the specific claim that it is your God, as opposed to Ra or Thor. You can't just say "you're wrong, therefore I am right" - we could both be wrong.

The difference between scientists and creationists is very simple: scientists adjust views as more evidence is found and creationists assert that Creator started everything. That's why scientific explanations keep changing - there is new evidence. Who knows, maybe they're proven wrong in a thousand years and it was the FSM after all, but we'll find that out not because of faith but because of evidence.

Re:Just Keep Pulling Shit From Your Asses. (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about 2 years ago | (#41415651)

I cannot wait to see the looks on your faces when Judgement Day arrives. Now go love thy brother as yourselves and forgive.

Congratulations, you've just summed up the entire fundamentalist mentality in two sentences. Good job!

Re:Just Keep Pulling Shit From Your Asses. (2)

rasmusbr (2186518) | about 2 years ago | (#41415663)

No, it's like a watching a juror change her way of thinking about the story as more and more evidence is revealed throughout the trial.

Until someone can show me how to make a creator out of dead empty space, you need to just accept the fact that there is a creator-creator. Until someone can show me how to make a creator-creator out of dead empty space, you need to just accept the fact that there is a creator-creator-creator. Until someone can show me how to make a creator-creator-creator out of dead empty space...

Skimpy article (1)

wcrowe (94389) | about 2 years ago | (#41415277)

It doesn't explain that vegetables contain the necessary DHA. Is that the case? I can only infer that from TFA.

I also have to ask the question: do other primates not eat vegetables?

Re:Skimpy article (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41415385)

If they don't, they get NO DESSERT!

Next mutation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41415405)

So when is the next mutation going to happen that humans can survive from common fast food?

I'm a vegitarian... (1)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | about 2 years ago | (#41415591)

...my food eats plants, then I eat the food. *rimshot*

Wrong! Obviously you aren't keeping up (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41415677)

This is so wrong. You haven't been keeping up with your articles as the 'author' of the "out of Africa movement" is contradicting his own idea and that this is not what happened. But junk science followed by more junk science gives you slashdot science.

Whaaaat (0)

eyenot (102141) | about 2 years ago | (#41415763)

You're SO wrong, for starters, what do you MEAN, "Out of Africa"? Don't you mean, "Out of Africa, East Asia, and Australia?" And lastly, what do you mean "mutation"? If it wasn't for selective breeding it wouldn't have taken hold. Where you think you is, Waterworld?

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