Anthropologist pushes back date of first humans hunting for meat to two million years ago

Sep 26, 2012 by Bob Yirka report

(Phys.org)—Henry Bunn, anthropologist from Wisconsin University, speaking at the annual European Society for the study of Human Evolution meeting in Bordeaux this year, has suggested that the date that humans began hunting down large prey for food needs to be pushed back over a million and a half years after studying evidence of carcasses of antelopes, gazelles and wildebeest left behind by Homo habilis at a site in Tanzania. He said evidence there indicates that early man was hunting in an organized fashion some two million years ago.

Up till now, most in the field have agreed that the most recent evidence of early man hunting animals for meat to eat was at a site in Germany that showed horses being brought down with long spears, likely thrown from trees, approximately 400,000 years ago. They've also agreed that early man was almost certainly eating meat before this time, but only from left over from other hunters such as lions.

In this new study, Bunn said that in comparing the types of animals and their ages eaten by lions and other carnivores today with the types of meat that were being eaten by early man, it's clear that our descendants were not eating leftovers, but were instead going out and getting their own meat.

When leopards and lions hunt down and eat the larger species of antelope, for example, they tend to go for the young or old, as they are generally easier to bring down. Evidence at the Tanzania site however shows that were eating such animals that were in their prime. On the other hand, when the go after the smaller species of antelope, they tend to capture those in their prime, while early man seemed to prefer the young and the old. These findings, Bunn said, show very clearly that the animals that early man was eating were not brought down by other animals but were killed by hunting them themselves.

The evidence brought forth by Bunn could mean the rewriting of some theories regarding how it was humans developed such complex brains, and why. Some have suggested it came about as a result of the evolution of social communities and the challenges it created, with early man eating a lot of vegetative material and the odd bit of meat that could be scavenged. If early man was hunting though, that would mean he was using his brain to development new ways to do it more efficiently, particularly if it was done in groups, which would seem the most likely scenario as it generally results in the most success.

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via Guardian

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User comments : 21

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verkle
3.2 / 5 (5) Sep 26, 2012
A nice big juicy steak has always tasted good, no matter how many years ago it was.

PJS
1 / 5 (2) Sep 26, 2012
monkey see, monkey do
DavidW
1.6 / 5 (9) Sep 26, 2012
Torturing or killing life for the sole purpose of self-gratification (taste) is identical to the behavior of a pedophile or rapist or murderer, other than the victim is not human.

Raising livestock is a 20 to 1 waste factor of grown food.

Arguments that state eating animals and their products are required for nutrition are not backed by the known scientific facts per the American Dietetic Association.

"We have killed each other since the stone age", is not a reason to keep killing.
Argiod
3 / 5 (4) Sep 27, 2012
We already know that apes will kill and eat meat. So, if we are descended from them, it is quite natural to assume that we, too, have probably eaten meat from the emergence of humankind. I doubt we all of a sudden developed a taste for meat, along with the proper teeth to tear and chew it for proper digestion.
rockwolf1000
4 / 5 (5) Sep 27, 2012
Torturing or killing life for the sole purpose of self-gratification (taste) is identical to the behavior of a pedophile� or rapist or murderer, other than the victim is not human.

Raising livestock is a 20 to 1 waste factor of grown food.

Arguments that state eating animals and their products are required for nutrition are not backed by the known scientific facts per the American Dietetic Association.

"We have killed each other since the stone age", is not a reason to keep killing.


In the case of domestic beef cattle, etc; if people were not eating them they would have no value and become extinct. Therefore, I ask you this; Is it more inhumane to raise animals for slaughter after experiencing at least some life. Or to deny them any existence at all?

Do you hate carnivorous/omnivorous animals too?
alfie_null
3 / 5 (2) Sep 27, 2012
A nice big juicy steak has always tasted good, no matter how many years ago it was.

Raw?

Or maybe scavenged from a carcass, having seasoned under the hot African sun for a couple days? Would it taste better with the maggots, or would you brush them off before eating it?
DavidW
1 / 5 (4) Sep 27, 2012
In the case of domestic beef cattle, etc; if people were not eating them they would have no value and become extinct.

That's a fantastic statement. All life is important, as the most important thing in life is life. This is a self-evident truth. Life remains important, and thus has value, because the truth says life is important and for no other reason.

Therefore, I ask you this; Is it more inhumane to raise animals for slaughter after experiencing at least some life. Or to deny them any existence at all?

This part assumes you made a point in the first statement, when in fact it is disproved by the truth completely.

Do you hate carnivorous/omnivorous animals too?

If the killing is done only for personal gratification, then those doing the killing are sick. That's what happens. If one of us is evil, then we all are, as the truth says, "None of us can change the past", and so we are all equal under the truth and all life is important."evil>lies>killing
DavidW
1 / 5 (5) Sep 27, 2012
The more our knowledge is increased, the more we must accept the truths we have come to understand. The truth is our only protection. Hate evil, not life. Life is to be loved and appreciated in all its beautiful glory. If we are really looking out for the animals and looking for the honest and truthful best answer, then we must accept the fact that evil becomes lies and lies becomes needless unnecessary killing. In order to stop the killing and save life we must be honest and accept the very existence of the truth; we are truthfully alive; we cannot truthfully change the past. That's truthful reality. Any discussion must start there in truthful reality or we are not playing with a full deck for some reason. Only with the truth and life will we do better.
Shamuss
not rated yet Sep 27, 2012
all this talk of truth... truth is I'm hungry, I think I'll go have a delicious T-Bone or New York Strip!! Davie, you sould grab one too, they are yummy!
rubberman
3 / 5 (2) Sep 28, 2012
Wow...I love life too Dave, but almost all living multi cellular organisms eat something else that is or was once alive (plants count as alive), this is one of the reasons why scientists study the food web and ecosystems so intently. Not to mention the inadvertant animal deaths you caused by requiring electricity for your computer, drinking water, driving your car...it's a long list, truthfully.
DavidW
1 / 5 (2) Sep 28, 2012
Shamuss,
I hope you change your mind.
When we pay others to do needless killing for us we are also encouraging other people to kill needlessly. We cannot respect others by helping them to disrespect themselves. This is in addition to the unnecessary suffering and loss of life.

alfie_null,
You made a nice point. Humans are not genetic flesh eaters. The few serious attempts trying to scientifically justify eating animals have all been disproven. We don't like the sound, smell, and sight of death. People would not like it if we were to play on every speaker and screen on earth all the current unnecessary torture and slaughter of the animals. It proves the truth we are not genetic flesh eaters. They will need to prove fire/cooking. People need fire to consume large amounts of flesh. Those of us that can abstain from killing should be. Yes, the continents do fit together and the rocks are of the same type. Yes, we must have the truth in truthful science. :)
rockwolf1000
5 / 5 (1) Sep 28, 2012

"This part assumes you made a point in the first statement, when in fact it is disproved by the truth completely."

Nothing I've said has been dis-proven. It's a simple economic reality that if people stop consuming meat farmers will stop raising cattle. Now unless you are suggesting these animals should be set loose into the wild or become pets or put on display in zoos it's pretty obvious to anyone with a working brain that they will simply disappear. i.e. extinct. What part of that don't you get? Your search for the "truth" would deny billions of animals their very existence you cruel and evil person you!
DavidW
1 / 5 (2) Sep 28, 2012
See, that's the thing rubberman, I have said we are equal all along. It was rockwolf that asked the question of hate.

rockwolf1000 stated, "Nothing I've said has been dis-proven." He seems to think I must provide anther reason other than life is the most important thing in life. That's a truism. He must get past that truth, which he can't, in order to have anything truthful to say. I could go on about how those that made the industry, most of us, are responsible to take care of these animals now, how we should recycle, take only what we need from a plant, etc. I didn't mention it because it doesn't matter. The truth say's that's how it is. Excuses to attempting to justify doing wrong... something most of us are very good at...
People are not evil. The truth says we are important. We all must do much better to stop the unnecessary suffering now, while promoting our importance and responsibility to all life on the planet.
thewhitebear
2 / 5 (1) Sep 30, 2012
life is life, it's all molded from the same basic molecules and has the same basic imperative of survival and reproduction. these particular energy clumps we see as bodies are fleeting, materializing from the energy soup one day then dissolving back the next. all life is sacred, but in order to live we have to consume the energy in other living organisms. Life requires death. I think the way humans treat many of their food sources, from broiler chickens to genetically modified corn organisms is a crime, but that's the process that's flawed, not the underlying necessary exchange of energy. to draw arbitrary lines between organisms based solely on our Linnaean system of classification is ecologically and metagenomically dull. we are all one organism, the energy flows between nodes, we eat, we are et.
Rencell
5 / 5 (1) Sep 30, 2012
I was under the impression that mankind required meat during its development and evolution to derive the nutrition needed for our growing brains. Modern humans do not require meat but a taste for it has been selected over millions of years so it won't be going anywhere soon. If anyone has a background I'd love to hear from you.

Healthy diets generally require a near absence of meat relative to US cultural standards. Vegetarian food stuffs take less energy input for caloric output and have vast health benefits too numerous to mention. Positive stuff.

David you have some good points although your use of truthy truthness is a bit mind numbing and the connection of meat producers to pedophiles, rapists and murders was a bit of a stretch. I find that an argument is effective in relation to the quality of its delivery to the audience. If you can get a person to incorporate even a small aspect of your lifestyle you've won. If you turn them off you will reinforce the behavior you detest.
Mayday
not rated yet Sep 30, 2012
I would very much like more than the average portion of protein on my table. I don't eat red meat because I think it can cause cancer. Chicken and fish pass my lips often. I wish we could raise birds in a more humane fashion. And our fish are full of heavy metals. Tofu is fine, but has too much estrogen. David, if you can suggest a reasonable alternative, bring it. About life? Fish are alive. Plants are alive. Even algae are alive. Life is life. How should I decide who wins and who loses?
Mayday
5 / 5 (1) Sep 30, 2012
DavidW, here's the challenge: write a post that does not use a word derived from the word "true." Please. I know you can do it. We're all rooting for ya. And we're all hungry.
DavidW
1 / 5 (3) Oct 01, 2012

You wish to tell me you have something of value for this world with science, but that the science is not truthful? What good is science that is not truthful?

Truth and Life save the world, past, present and future. Without that, we have nothing. If you are not looking for truthful science then may I suggest witnessing the "truthful" horrors of killing on a daily basis? When doing so, we tend to find out how hurtful and wrong some choices are.
DavidW
1 / 5 (3) Oct 01, 2012
Rencell,
Your points are well taken. However, the screams of innocent require us to speak. I have gotten sick and tired of the excuses people make up to defend killing the innocent. That's why it's so fundamental. Truth and Life first. Because it's true! It is numbing, because it's true. That's how the truth works on our brain when we want to see something else.
I didn't reduce this to a flawless state in a few years. Nor did I come to it on my own. Self-gratuitous behavior that inflects suffering and death on the innocent is identical, other than the victim is not human. This is who we are as people.
People need to be whole and I won't compromise the very best for us. If we people have heard about vegan, etc. and not chosen to stop killing needlessly, then they should understand what our behavior is.
It needs to stop right now.
DavidW
1 / 5 (3) Oct 01, 2012
Mayday,
We can't be more than we are. We are all faced with decisions where we have to ask, "What is the best or correct thing to do?" Whatever the best or correct answer is, it will contain the most truth. I would say to watch the slaughter of animals. See as much as you can of the truth. If you want to eat cows, then watch every cow killed that you eat and then ask yourself if you need to do it and if the animal is suffering or loosing life. We have to go so far as people. It is has always been a work in progress. We need to hold scientists to these truths about human nature, genetics, and morality just as we must hold ourselves to them. I have been at this conversation for over 30 years. I never really realized the day would come where I was alive and the truth would be clear on people eating animals. Yet, here it is, refined by the blood of over a trillion animals and billions of people, dropped in my lap by everything they had to give. Now it was handed to you. We are important.
rubberman
1 / 5 (1) Oct 01, 2012
"We need to hold scientists to these truths about human nature, genetics, and morality just as we must hold ourselves to them."

Dave, at some point during the day, every day, every human being on earth wishes for something they don't have or wishes they can change something about themselves. This is part of our genetic makeup (the continued drive to "better" ourselves) who's boundaries are dictated by our individual egos. To describe this we invented the word "MORE". THis word now drives our society, most societies on the planet (because our global economy has gone from one of requirement to one of desire) and is the reason that we all gather here to debate the causes that are sinking the ship we are all on. We all argue about what needs to change, when the thing to change is the one thing we can't, our nature. Science has repeatedly informed us of the unsustainable nature of current human existence, ego prevents people from believing, caring or promptly trying to make changes.

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