Did Seaweed Make Us Humans?

Posted: Mar 1 2017, 8:49am CST | by , Updated: Mar 1 2017, 9:41am CST, in News | Latest Science News

 

Did Seaweed Make Us Humans?
Coastal areas may very well have attracted early hominoids in search of food, including seaweed. Credit: Getty Images
  • Did Seaweed Play an Important Role in Human Evolution?
 

The question before scientists is: did such a minor thing as seaweed play an important role in human evolution? Apparently, the answer is a resounding yes.

Millions of years in the past, some sort of incident occurred that forced human beings to diversify in their evolution. They spread all over the earth from their original focal point.

What was this mysterious factor?

The answer may surprise you. It was actually seaweed. Its unique combination of nutrients played a vital role in the diversification of human beings.  

Human brains evolved over the past couple of million years so that today they stand as marvels of creation. They are responsible for our greatest achievements which include: culture, art, language, science and technology. 

Our earliest ancestors required some essential nutrients to ensure that their brains expanded and increased in intelligence. The consumption of energy-rich food was the only way that this could be accomplished.

Especially, magnesium and zinc were very crucial for brain functioning. The modern brain too is heavily dependent upon magnesium and zinc.

From our primitive predecessors all the way to modern man or Homo sapiens, the one food item that got consumed and that was high in these minerals was seaweed. 

These seaweeds were often seen stranded on the beaches. They were collected by primitive man on a regular basis. Consumption of a variety of seaweeds played a pivotal role in the evolution of the human brain.

Around 5-7 million years ago, our ancestors split off from the branch of primates that include the chimpanzees. The African Savannah also faced a rapid drying out during this period on the timeline.

The ensuing journey out of the interior of Africa could have led to bipedalism. Especially the inhabitation of coastal areas meant that seaweed would be harvested in large quantities. 

Such food items as fish, crabs, shrimps, snails, avian eggs and last but not least seaweed would have been available in excess. All members of human tribes from men to women to children may well have engaged in the harvesting of seaweed.

This cocktail of chemicals and nutrients found in coastal produce must have been very beneficial for the human brain. Among the ingredients in these food sources are: taurine, magnesium, zinc, vitamin B12, iodine and PUFAs (Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids).

All in all, the mixture of a seafood diet with other eatables ensured that human beings developed intelligent and creative brains which led to their progress as a unique species.  

Findings of this study got published in Journal of Applied Phycology.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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