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Agree with Jared Diamond's Quote on Big Game Hunting?

Answered on June 22, 2016
Created August 21, 2012 at 5:29 PM

From the Third Chimpanzee:

???The mystique of Man the Hunter is now so rooted in us that it is hard to abandon our belief in its long-standing importance. Today, shooting a big animal is regarded as an ultimate expression of macho masculinity. Trapped in this mystique, male anthropologists like to stress the key role of big-game hunting in human evolution. Supposedly, big-game hunting was what induced protohuman males to cooperate with each other, develop language and big brains, join into bands, and share food. Even women were supposedly moulded by men???s big-game hunting: women suppressed the external signs of monthly ovulation that are so conspicuous in chimps, so as not to drive men into a frenzy of sexual competition and thereby spoil men???s cooperation at hunting.

As an example of the purple prose spawned by this men???s locker-room mentality, consider the following account of human evolution by Robert Ardrey in his book African Genesis:

'In some scrawny troop of beleagured not-yet-men on some scrawny forgotten plain a radian particle from an unknown source fractured a never-to-be-forgotten gene, and a primate carnivore was born. For better or worse, for tragedy or for triumph, for ultimate glory or ultimate damnation, intelligence made alliance with the way of the killer, and Cain with his sticks and his stones and his quickly running feet emerged on the high savannah.'

What pure fantasy!

Western male writers and anthropologists are not the only men with an exaggerated view of hunting. In New Guinea I have lived with real hunters, men who recently emerged from the Stone Age. Conversations at campfires go on for hours over each species of game animal, its habits, and how best to hunt it. To listen to my New Guinea friends, you would think that they eat fresh kangaroo for dinner every night and do little each day except hunt. In fact, when pressed for details, most New Guinea hunters admit that they have bagged only a few kangaroos in their whole life.

I still recall my first morning in the New Guinea highlands, when I set out with a group of a dozen men, armed with bows and arrows. As we passed a fallen tree, there was suddenly much excited shouting, men surrounded the tree, some spanned their bows, and others pressed forward into the brushpile. Convinced that an enraged boar or kangaroo was about to come out fighting, I looked for a tree that I could climb to a perch of safety. Then I heard triumphant shrieks, and out of the brushpile came two mighty hunters holding aloft their prey: two baby wrens, not quite able to fly, weighing about a third of an ounce each, and promptly plucked, roasted, and eaten. The rest of that day???s catch consisted of a few frogs and many mushrooms.

Studies of most modern hunter-gatherers with far more effective weapons than early Homo sapiens show that most of a family???s calories come from plant food gathered by women. Men catch rabbits and other small game never mentioned in the heroic campfire stories. Occasionally the men do bag a large animal, which does indeed contribute significantly to protein intake. But it is only in the Arctic, where little plant food is available, that big-game hunting becomes the dominant food source, and humans did not reach the Arctic until within the last few dozen millenia. Thus I would guess that big-game hunting contributed only modestly to our food intake until after we had evolved fully modern anatomy and behaviour. I doubt the usual view that hunting was the driving force behind our uniquely human brain and societies. For most of our history we were not mighty hunters but skilled chimps, using stone tools to acquire and prepare plant food and small animals. Occasionally, men did bag a large animal, and then retold the story of that rare event incessantly.???

7a6529ea25b655132fe58d793f95547a

(2030)

on January 11, 2013
at 10:56 PM

Ya I agree with the former, the OP needs to read his other books. The bolide theory, interesting that would simplify things wouldn't it. "Hey man a bunch of rocks hit the earth", case closed.

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on January 08, 2013
at 02:34 PM

Well, you can't have it both ways. Big game hunting was so important that exterminated all the big game or big game hunting is over idealized and non-important. Which is it? (Hint: If we really did kill off all the mega fauna, then hunting is pretty important. I kinda like the bolide theory, but it's probably crap.)

7a6529ea25b655132fe58d793f95547a

(2030)

on January 06, 2013
at 06:43 PM

"Hence it seems to me most likely that the giants were exterminated by humans both directly and indirectly." -Jared Diamond pg. 44 Guns, Germs, and Steel.

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on August 22, 2012
at 03:22 PM

Provide me the references and I will. I know that his books are well thought of, but I don't have them. However, I would say that to base one's opinion of hunting throughout evolution on a personal experience of the lack of hunting success in a particular HG tribe is not convincing to me in the least. And the fact that modern HG's don't briong down a lot of game (bulk of calories provided by plant gathering), speaks more to the mordern lack of large herds of big game roaming around today, rather than the lack of hunting ability or desire. Finally, see Robb Wolf in 'I, Caveman'. I rest my case.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78447)

on August 22, 2012
at 04:21 AM

His conclusions are based on extensive research. If you doubt them, investigate the references for the passage you quoted.

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3 Answers

3
A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on August 21, 2012
at 07:29 PM

How does he reconcile that view with the idea idea that many megafauna went extinct due to human over hunting? What's the point (pardon the pun) of inventing stone tools for butchering and killing, if you are not going to use them? What about all the archealogical sites littered with the bones of said megafauna? Where are the wooly mammoth and cave bear today? (Okay, maybe the Japanese and the Russkies are hiding a wooly mammoth somewhere, but...)

Maybe he has a point, but I doubt it.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78447)

on August 22, 2012
at 04:21 AM

His conclusions are based on extensive research. If you doubt them, investigate the references for the passage you quoted.

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on August 22, 2012
at 03:22 PM

Provide me the references and I will. I know that his books are well thought of, but I don't have them. However, I would say that to base one's opinion of hunting throughout evolution on a personal experience of the lack of hunting success in a particular HG tribe is not convincing to me in the least. And the fact that modern HG's don't briong down a lot of game (bulk of calories provided by plant gathering), speaks more to the mordern lack of large herds of big game roaming around today, rather than the lack of hunting ability or desire. Finally, see Robb Wolf in 'I, Caveman'. I rest my case.

7a6529ea25b655132fe58d793f95547a

(2030)

on January 06, 2013
at 06:43 PM

"Hence it seems to me most likely that the giants were exterminated by humans both directly and indirectly." -Jared Diamond pg. 44 Guns, Germs, and Steel.

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on January 08, 2013
at 02:34 PM

Well, you can't have it both ways. Big game hunting was so important that exterminated all the big game or big game hunting is over idealized and non-important. Which is it? (Hint: If we really did kill off all the mega fauna, then hunting is pretty important. I kinda like the bolide theory, but it's probably crap.)

7a6529ea25b655132fe58d793f95547a

(2030)

on January 11, 2013
at 10:56 PM

Ya I agree with the former, the OP needs to read his other books. The bolide theory, interesting that would simplify things wouldn't it. "Hey man a bunch of rocks hit the earth", case closed.

1
F0a3e3f17d9a740810ac37ff2353a9f3

(3804)

on August 21, 2012
at 07:18 PM

I don't find anything remarkable about it.

Hunter-gatherers live on the foods that are available to them, usually based on location.

0
66a8fba2b36ea3a6862dc8bcbba92ff2

on June 22, 2016
at 10:38 AM

2 years late...but i must say i agree to some degree but in other ways not so much. I don't think large game was a big part of the diet, however it would have been eaten. Particuarly in africa, the middle east and parts of asia the savannah/grass plains peoples would have actively scavenged the kills of canines, bears and big cats, long before they even arrived in lush tropical areas like New Guinea where not only it is more difficult to catch such animals, but, theyre existence is also scarce particularly on an island like Guinea.

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