Nathaniel J Dominy

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Starch consumption is a prominent characteristic of agricultural societies and hunter-gatherers in arid environments. In contrast, rainforest and circum-arctic hunter-gatherers and some pastoralists consume much less starch. This behavioral variation raises the possibility that different selective pressures have acted on amylase, the enzyme responsible for(More)
The divergent molar characteristics of Pan troglodytes and Pongo pygmaeus provide an instructive paradigm for examining the adaptive form-function relationship between molar enamel thickness and food hardness. Although both species exhibit a categorical preference for ripe fruit over other food objects, the thick enamel and crenulated occlusal surface of(More)
Leaf mechanical properties strongly influence leaf lifespan, plant-herbivore interactions, litter decomposition and nutrient cycling, but global patterns in their interspecific variation and underlying mechanisms remain poorly understood. We synthesize data across the three major measurement methods, permitting the first global analyses of leaf mechanics(More)
Survival and reproductive success hinge on the perception of environmental stimuli. In this regard, foraging efficiency depends on discerning predictive signals in food. A widespread occurrence of ethanol in fruits indicates a sustained historical exposure of frugivores to this compound. Accordingly, Dudley (2000, Quart. Rev. Biol. 75:3-15) proposed that(More)
Evolution of the red-green visual subsystem in trichromatic primates has been linked to foraging advantages, namely the detection of either ripe fruits or young leaves amid mature foliage. We tested competing hypotheses globally for eight primate taxa: five with routine trichromatic vision, three without. Routinely trichromatic species ingested leaves that(More)
The diet of early human ancestors has received renewed theoretical interest since the discovery of elevated δ13C values in the enamel of Australopithecus africanus and Paranthropus robustus. As a result, the hominin diet is hypothesized to have included C4 grass or the tissues of animals which themselves consumed C4 grass. On mechanical grounds, such a diet(More)
Small human body size, or the 'pygmy' phenotype, is characteristic of certain African, Southeast Asian and South American populations. The convergent evolution of this phenotype, and its strong association with tropical rainforests, have motivated adaptive hypotheses that stress the advantages of small size for coping with food limitation, warm, humid(More)
The exploitation of polarized light may increase perceived visual contrast independent of spectrum and intensity and thus have adaptive value in forest habitats, where illumination varies greatly in brightness and spectral properties. Here we investigate the extent to which Costa Rican butterflies of the family Nymphalidae exhibit polarized wing reflectance(More)