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The skinny

The skinny: Study says ancient 'Nutcracker Man' really ate grass

jaw-dropping news

'Nutcracker man' is more of a salad guy

After a half-century of referring to an ancient pre-human as "Nutcracker Man" because of his large teeth and powerful jaw, scientists now conclude that he actually chewed grasses instead. According to a new report in today's edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, carbon in the enamel of 24 teeth from 22 individuals who lived in east Africa between 1.4 million and 1.9 million years ago was analyzed. One type of carbon is produced from tree leaves, nuts and fruit, another from grasses and grasslike plants called sedges. Turns out that the early human known as Paranthropus boisei did not eat nuts but dined more heavily on grasses than any other human ancestor or human relative studied to date. Only an extinct species of grass-eating baboon ate more, researchers said. "Frankly, we didn't expect to find the primate equivalent of a cow dangling from a remote twig of our family tree,'' co-author Matt Sponheimer of the University of Colorado said. The skull of Paranthropus was discovered by Mary and Louis Leakey in 1959 at Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania and helped put the Leakeys on the world stage.

smart phone

Leaking house dials 911 for help

After months of enduring a leaking pipe that buckled its floors and sagged its ceilings, an empty Massachusetts house somehow called police for help. The Salem News reported the 911 call went out to police from a house in Marblehead last week after water short-circuited the phone system, apparently sparking the emergency call. Officers were sent to the address after the call was recorded as a hang up and a return call got static. Inside, they found the wreckage, including potentially toxic mold, from a pipe that apparently burst during the winter.

Pedicure appeal

Salon owner fishes for favorable ruling

An Arizona appeals court says a business owner is entitled to challenge the constitutionality of state rules barring her from using fish in her salon pedicures. The Arizona Court of Appeals ruled Friday that Cindy Vong can sue over the Arizona Board of Cosmetology's threat to pull her license if she didn't stop offering the pedicure, which uses fish to eat dead skin off clients' feet. The board alleged the fish were unsafe because they couldn't be sterilized.

pride and prejudice

Polling place now ponchos-free zone

An Ohio elections board has dropped a plan to give voters a poncho to cover up if they come to the polls wearing clothing that promotes local schools. The board in southeast Ohio's Washington County announced the poncho policy last month. Board members said they felt showing school pride would amount to illegal polling-place campaigning on behalf of tax measures on today's ballot for the Marietta and Warren Local schools. Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted disagreed.

Compiled from Times wires.

The skinny: Study says ancient 'Nutcracker Man' really ate grass 05/02/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 1, 2011 6:13pm]
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