Nutcracker Teeth Challenge

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Nutcracker teeth challenge evolutionary adaptation, according to an article in EurekAlert, 29 April 2008 and PLoS ONE 30 April 2008. “Nutcracker Man” is the nickname given to Paranthropus boisei, an extinct ape-like creature, believed to be a relative of human ancestors. The nickname came from its huge robust jaw, extensive area of jaw muscle attachment on the cranium and “the biggest, flattest cheek teeth and the thickest enamel of any known hominin.” These findings led scientists to believe the creature lived on a diet of tough foods such as nuts, seeds, roots and tubers.

Peter Ungar, an anthropologist at J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, and colleagues have examined the patterns of wear and tear on teeth of P. Bosei specimens and found a pattern more consistent with a diet of soft fruit. According to EurekAlert, “This finding suggests that structure alone is not enough to predict dietary preferences and that evolutionary adaptation for eating may have been based on scarcity rather than on an animal’s regular diet.”

This apparent paradox between an animal’s teeth and jaws and its diet has been also found in fish and fits with observations that animals will even avoid eating foods they appear adapted for. Ungar explained: “If you give a gorilla a choice of eating a sugary fruit or a leaf, it will take the fruit every time. But if you look at a gorilla’s skull, its sharp teeth are adapted to consuming tough leaves. They don’t eat the leaves unless they have to.” Ungar also commented that the Nutcracker Man study “challenges the fundamental assumptions of why such specializations occur in nature. It shows that animals can develop an extreme degree of specialization without the specialized object becoming a preferred resource.”

EurekAlert, PLoS ONE

Editorial Comment: It seems the evolutionists are finally admitting to what Creation Research has been saying about teeth for many years, i.e. an animal’s teeth and jaws indicate how it eats, rather than what it eats. Sharp teeth are for ripping, flat teeth for chewing, but what it rips or what it chews are what it chooses. It also takes more than just strong teeth and jaws to eat tough nuts and tubers. The animal’s digestive system has to be able to cope with them as well. It is not possible to study an extinct animal’s digestive processes, but we may be audacious enough to suggest that P. bosei became extinct because it could no longer find enough soft fruits to eat as the environment got tougher after Noah’s flood. (Ref. diet, hominids, apes)

Evidence News 27 May 2009

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