Profs & Pints DC: When All Diets Were Paleo-Door tickets remain available.

By Profs and Pints (other events)

Tuesday, November 28 2023 6:00 PM 8:30 PM EDT

Advance ticket sales have ended but plenty of additional tickets remain available at the door.

Profs and Pints DC presents: “When All Diets Were Paleo,” on how and what our prehistoric ancestors ate, with Briana Pobiner, Smithsonian paleoanthropologist and associate research professor in the Center for the Advanced Study of Human Paleobiology at George Washington University.

You’ve probably heard of the “paleo” diet and perhaps seen food labelled “paleo.” You might know someone who eats “paleo” – or even do so yourself.

The diet trend’s reference to the Paleolithic period raises a question: What did our ancient ancestors actually eat?

Gain a rich understanding of prehistoric eating habits—and how we know about them—with the help of paleoanthropologist Briana Pobiner, a dietary detective who has spent decades conducting research in Africa, Asia, and Europe. Her work has involved excavating fossils, uncovering secrets locked up in museum collections, and going into the field to watch carnivores chomp on their prey. What she has learned about early meat eaters might surprise you.

She’ll talk about the different lines of evidence that scientists use to study meat-eating in prehistoric people. They include animal fossils with the smoking gun traces of butchery – stone knife marks—as well as blood residues, archaeological artifacts, and physical and chemical traces of ancient foods left in human fossils themselves. Also studied are the diets of modern foragers and of our closest living relatives, chimpanzees.

You’ll learn how at least 2.9 million years ago humans started scavenging meat from animal carcasses with the help of sharp-edged tools. Eventually they began hunting and competing with big predators.

Did their diet ever become all meat, all the time? Dr. Pobiner will discuss that. She’ll also tackle the question of whether cannibalism was part of the mix. The answers might change how you look at that those “paleo” labels.

Dr. Pobiner will be donating her talk proceeds to the Smithsonian Institution to support her research. (Advance tickets: $13.50 plus sales tax and processing fees. Doors: $17, or $15 with a student ID. Listed time is for doors. Talk starts 30 minutes later.)

Image: From a prehistoric hunting scene in Bulgaria’s Magura Cave. (Photo by Klearchos Kapoutsis / Creative Commons.)