3

votes

egg consumption among hunter-gatherers

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created July 18, 2012 at 5:30 PM

I know that eggs are a natural food source and are something that our ancestors would have encountered in the wild, but my question is, with what frequency? I do not imagine them being an everyday thing, but I could be wrong. Does anyone have data on this? Educated guesses are welcomed too.

I have seen some documentaries on primitive tribes, and eggs are notably absent from how they describe the diets. Usually it is pork, birds, monkeys, fish, rodents, and other wild game for animals, and potatoes, yucca, corn, and other tubers for starch, and berries and honey for sweet. Just, of course from documentaries that do not gather the full lifestyle and diet.

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on July 19, 2012
at 02:00 AM

define "dangerous spot" -- human are and have always been very adaptable. For a bird to lay eggs on a weak tree branch -- one where most predators could not reach -- would be dangerous if humans were around.

03a4ec34751186201a56da298ac843ce

(4100)

on July 19, 2012
at 01:14 AM

Well, paleolithic animals, like horseshoe crabs would flock to the beach in droves of thousands and lay eggs. They were very fecund and the reason for this fecundity is that some of the eggs would be eaten....So, yes, they would regularly lay their eggs in dangerous places, however, the sheer volume of eggs insures that some will survive.

03a4ec34751186201a56da298ac843ce

(4100)

on July 19, 2012
at 01:13 AM

Well, paleolithic animals, like horseshoe crabs would flock to the beach in droves of thousands and lay eggs. They were very fecund and the reason for this fecundity is that some of the eggs would be eaten.

C45d7e96acd83d3a6f58193dbc140e86

on July 19, 2012
at 12:43 AM

What I am saying is that it is impossible to know. Just like we don't know how much squash or ruminants, or whatever. Because before the dawn of agriculture, there were many different HG's out there, some might have found a niche in gathering eggs, and ate them every freaking day, and another HG might not have ever eaten them.

3a9d5dde5212ccd34b860bb6ed07bbef

(1782)

on July 19, 2012
at 12:33 AM

I do not want to make a big deal of this, so I voted you back up, but now you know the way I see it, and I know the way you see it. If you just edited your answer to say "as of now, we do not really know the quantity, but if they were around, then you could reason that we'd have eaten them."

3a9d5dde5212ccd34b860bb6ed07bbef

(1782)

on July 19, 2012
at 12:31 AM

RaiseFitness: then you should have written that. It sounds like you are telling me that some ate them and some did not without real data (question 1) or just an educated reason/hypothesis (question 2). Although, it is a good lesson that you are teaching about losing sight of the forest and focusing on tree bark. It would have been a great answer to a different question that I did not ask.

C45d7e96acd83d3a6f58193dbc140e86

on July 19, 2012
at 12:18 AM

Our ability to outsmart other species is what made us the top of the food chain.

C45d7e96acd83d3a6f58193dbc140e86

on July 19, 2012
at 12:18 AM

That sounds like an hypothesis without evidence to back it up. I suppose only you, Alligator, can give your opinion as an hypothesis without sound evidence. Makes sense now

C45d7e96acd83d3a6f58193dbc140e86

on July 19, 2012
at 12:16 AM

No, what I am saying is that it is an unknowable answer.

3a9d5dde5212ccd34b860bb6ed07bbef

(1782)

on July 19, 2012
at 12:08 AM

This begs the question though, that if animals have regular locations to lay their eggs, they will be safe locations, because they will not regularly lay eggs in a dangerous spot. Therefore, one can reason that HGs could not know in advance where these locations are, otherwise they would be exploited and the animals would not lay there again (or else they'd go extinct). So, it seems that HGs would have to be opportunistic egg gatherers. That means that when they stumble upon them, they eat them, but they can not have a reliable source for them, otherwise the animal would soon be extinct...

3a9d5dde5212ccd34b860bb6ed07bbef

(1782)

on July 19, 2012
at 12:05 AM

MatGirl72, I am not arguing, I am only saying that RaiseFitness did not answer the question. He said that many HGs ate them, and many did not. Without evidence, and without a hypothesis, that is neither data nor is it an educated guess. It is just saying what he believes to be true. There is nothing wrong with that, it just does not answer either of the two questions.

C45d7e96acd83d3a6f58193dbc140e86

on July 18, 2012
at 07:36 PM

I enjoy a good intelligent debate as much as the next person.

61844af1187e745e09bb394cbd28cf23

(11048)

on July 18, 2012
at 07:12 PM

And, again, alligator begins arguing with those responding to his questions.

C45d7e96acd83d3a6f58193dbc140e86

on July 18, 2012
at 07:07 PM

There is no accurate or specific answer to your question. It is an unknowable answer to say what frequency hunter-gatherers ate eggs. Some often and some never.

3a9d5dde5212ccd34b860bb6ed07bbef

(1782)

on July 18, 2012
at 06:31 PM

thank you for the heads up, but that does not answer the question.

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6 Answers

best answer

4
3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on July 18, 2012
at 05:41 PM

Most animals lay eggs in specific places. Birds, Turtles, Lizards, etc all tend to have regular locations to lay their eggs (assuming it doesn't get destroyed).

I have a lot of faith in our ancestors that they were able to figure that out. That being said, gestation is very seasonal for many animal species (we've "selectively bred" that out by picking the high baring to reproduce). So one would assume that at certain times of the year eggs were a big part of the diet, and at other times eggs were no where to be found.

03a4ec34751186201a56da298ac843ce

(4100)

on July 19, 2012
at 01:14 AM

Well, paleolithic animals, like horseshoe crabs would flock to the beach in droves of thousands and lay eggs. They were very fecund and the reason for this fecundity is that some of the eggs would be eaten....So, yes, they would regularly lay their eggs in dangerous places, however, the sheer volume of eggs insures that some will survive.

3a9d5dde5212ccd34b860bb6ed07bbef

(1782)

on July 19, 2012
at 12:08 AM

This begs the question though, that if animals have regular locations to lay their eggs, they will be safe locations, because they will not regularly lay eggs in a dangerous spot. Therefore, one can reason that HGs could not know in advance where these locations are, otherwise they would be exploited and the animals would not lay there again (or else they'd go extinct). So, it seems that HGs would have to be opportunistic egg gatherers. That means that when they stumble upon them, they eat them, but they can not have a reliable source for them, otherwise the animal would soon be extinct...

03a4ec34751186201a56da298ac843ce

(4100)

on July 19, 2012
at 01:13 AM

Well, paleolithic animals, like horseshoe crabs would flock to the beach in droves of thousands and lay eggs. They were very fecund and the reason for this fecundity is that some of the eggs would be eaten.

C45d7e96acd83d3a6f58193dbc140e86

on July 19, 2012
at 12:18 AM

That sounds like an hypothesis without evidence to back it up. I suppose only you, Alligator, can give your opinion as an hypothesis without sound evidence. Makes sense now

C45d7e96acd83d3a6f58193dbc140e86

on July 19, 2012
at 12:18 AM

Our ability to outsmart other species is what made us the top of the food chain.

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on July 19, 2012
at 02:00 AM

define "dangerous spot" -- human are and have always been very adaptable. For a bird to lay eggs on a weak tree branch -- one where most predators could not reach -- would be dangerous if humans were around.

2
03a4ec34751186201a56da298ac843ce

on July 18, 2012
at 10:15 PM

Since egg laying creatures were all around during the paleolithic period, and since eggs are not poisonous, I would guess that our ancestors would quickly figure out that they were safe and edible and, hence, would eat them whenever they could.

They may have even observed other animals eating eggs and simply copied the behavior.

2
C45d7e96acd83d3a6f58193dbc140e86

on July 18, 2012
at 06:16 PM

There is no way to recreate what our ancestors ate on a daily basis. Eggs are generally considered very healthy, so if you like them, then by all means, eat them as often as possible. There were hunter-gatherer tribes that have never eaten an egg, and those that ate them all the time. Just like any other paleo food, some might not have, and others might have. Don't worry about the details. We ARE NOT hunter-gatherers, we are trying to eat what our bodies were best evolved to eat.

3a9d5dde5212ccd34b860bb6ed07bbef

(1782)

on July 18, 2012
at 06:31 PM

thank you for the heads up, but that does not answer the question.

3a9d5dde5212ccd34b860bb6ed07bbef

(1782)

on July 19, 2012
at 12:33 AM

I do not want to make a big deal of this, so I voted you back up, but now you know the way I see it, and I know the way you see it. If you just edited your answer to say "as of now, we do not really know the quantity, but if they were around, then you could reason that we'd have eaten them."

C45d7e96acd83d3a6f58193dbc140e86

on July 18, 2012
at 07:36 PM

I enjoy a good intelligent debate as much as the next person.

C45d7e96acd83d3a6f58193dbc140e86

on July 19, 2012
at 12:16 AM

No, what I am saying is that it is an unknowable answer.

61844af1187e745e09bb394cbd28cf23

(11048)

on July 18, 2012
at 07:12 PM

And, again, alligator begins arguing with those responding to his questions.

C45d7e96acd83d3a6f58193dbc140e86

on July 18, 2012
at 07:07 PM

There is no accurate or specific answer to your question. It is an unknowable answer to say what frequency hunter-gatherers ate eggs. Some often and some never.

3a9d5dde5212ccd34b860bb6ed07bbef

(1782)

on July 19, 2012
at 12:05 AM

MatGirl72, I am not arguing, I am only saying that RaiseFitness did not answer the question. He said that many HGs ate them, and many did not. Without evidence, and without a hypothesis, that is neither data nor is it an educated guess. It is just saying what he believes to be true. There is nothing wrong with that, it just does not answer either of the two questions.

C45d7e96acd83d3a6f58193dbc140e86

on July 19, 2012
at 12:43 AM

What I am saying is that it is impossible to know. Just like we don't know how much squash or ruminants, or whatever. Because before the dawn of agriculture, there were many different HG's out there, some might have found a niche in gathering eggs, and ate them every freaking day, and another HG might not have ever eaten them.

3a9d5dde5212ccd34b860bb6ed07bbef

(1782)

on July 19, 2012
at 12:31 AM

RaiseFitness: then you should have written that. It sounds like you are telling me that some ate them and some did not without real data (question 1) or just an educated reason/hypothesis (question 2). Although, it is a good lesson that you are teaching about losing sight of the forest and focusing on tree bark. It would have been a great answer to a different question that I did not ask.

1
F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on July 18, 2012
at 07:02 PM

I found out that ostriches lay their eggs 6 months out of the year, and if female ostriches are out of sync, it is very likely that hunter gatherers could harvest ostrich eggs for at least 9 months out of the year or even longer.

I have seen a picture of a hunter gatherer tribal woman making an omelet (over a hot rock) with an ostrich egg. Not sure about any other wild birds, but see if you can find any information on our chicken's wild ancestors, Red Junglefowl.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Junglefowl

0
5af4bc9d2c390b0bcad9524f149c1b4f

(1101)

on July 19, 2012
at 02:38 AM

Anthony Bourdain ate a slow-cooked (on the ground) ostrich egg omelet in South Africa with a tribe of hunter-gatherers. Mmm... ash and dirt. :)

0
3a9d5dde5212ccd34b860bb6ed07bbef

on July 19, 2012
at 12:12 AM

Thank you everyone for the answers.

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