One, I have an article now available online at the Journal of Human Evolution*. It will be formally published as a part of a special issue dedicated to "The Other Faunivory," an endeavor of many biological anthropologists coming together to look at human evolution's lesser credited insect food sources. I will be posting more on this when that issue is launched. This special issue is based on a session held at the 2012 annual meetings of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists in Portland, OR. At that session I had the honor of meeting a special guest, Daniella Martin, which brings me to number two..
Two, Daniella Martin's book Edible: An Adventure into the World of Eating Insects and the Last Great Hope to Save the Planet is now available on Amazon!
An excerpt of the book related to human evolution is available here. Daniella does a great job summarizing some of the big points of the evolution of the human diet (and its inclusion of insects) for a broad, popular audience. The book I am currently writing takes the ideas presented here and details them out in academic form.
For instance, Daniella quotes the exact line in Backwell and d'Errico's 2001 PNAS article that inspired my work:
"Termites are a valuable source of protein, fat, and essential amino acids, in the diets of both primates and modern humans. While rump steak yields 322 calories per 100 grams, and cod fish 74, termites provide 560 calories per 100 grams."
Those numbers came from sources published in 1971. We have covered a lot of ground since then and I made it my job to do two things: 1) update the numbers with more recently published data, and 2) make it clear that we should take caution when broadly generalizing the nutritional contributions of "termites," a clade that contains over 280 genera and 2700 species.
My now-available article, "Termites in the hominin diet: A meta-analysis of termite genera, species and castes as a dietary supplement for South African robust australopithecines," begins to address these issues.
Here is the abstract*:
Here I review the ecology of termites and how it affects their desirability as a food resource for hominins, and conduct a meta-analysis of nutritional values for various genera, species and castes from the literature. Termites are very diverse, even within species, and this variability affects both their carbon signatures and nutritional value, hindering generalizations regarding the contribution of termites to the hominin diet. It is concluded here that a combination of soldiers and alates of the genus Macrotermes be used to model the insectivory component of the Plio-Pleistocene hominin diet due to their significant amounts of energy-yielding nutrients and potential role as a critical resource for supporting larger-brained hominins.
*If you are interested in the full version of this article but it is behind a pay wall, please contact me here and I will gladly send you a pdf.