Early hominids as carnivores

Commented on September 25, 2011
Created September 25, 2011 at 9:44 PM

Not a question, but I've seen other posts of this type, so I think it's okay.

I need to get this off my chest because it disturbs me when people claim we couldn't have evolved as carnivores because we don't have ferocious claws and teeth, and could neither run down prey nor defend against lions, etc., etc.??These people generally think we must be descended from vegetarians, or, at most, part-time scavengers with a strong vegetarian bias. But there is a theory that explains all our weird human features better than any other, and it's strictly carnivore -- well, VERY strongly carnivore at least.

It starts at the point where we had already somehow attained upright posture. Bipedal apes. It doesn't say how we got to that point, as I recall, so you could certainly fill in the mystery with your favorite semiaquatic ape theory or whatever you like, there's room for all comers way back in antiquity. But once our ancestors started walking upright, they discovered a whole new niche as predators. They became one-of-a-kind hunters, with no serious competion. It was as if they had the world to themselves, pretty much. Riches at their feet.

The idea is this: when you're standing upright, like a tree stump, you suffer less from the midday sun than when you're lying down, like a fallen log. Other animals, predator and prey alike, are logs. With their horizontal postures, they're prone (pun intended)??to overheat from mid-morning until mid-afternoon. The savanna becomes a very quite place during those hours. Prey animals stand stock-still in the shadiest groves they can find, while predators lay panting in the bushes. One big siesta.??

So here we are, midday, and a couple of our wimpy hairy ancestors decide to go for a walk. They're pretty stupid, but one is a little smarter than the other, and they both have pretty good posture. The dumb guy says, "Hey, look at that carcass, let's go get carrion!" The smart guy sees some lions in the bushes and says, "No, you go for it, I'll watch." So the dumb guy gets an armload of meat, to the astonishment of the smart guy, and almost brings it back to safety, but he gets klutzy and drops it when the the groggy lions come out. Still, he makes it back alive and says, "Hey, let's try again this evening!" Smart guy says, "No, you try, I'll wait till noon tomorrow. I'm sleepin' in after a hot date with your widow."

Lather, rinse, repeat - a gazillion times.

So here we are, the guys have lost some hair, they're really into the midday scavenging scene, and they're both smarter now, with one smarter than the other. Smart guy says, "Hey, look at all those little gazelles in the acacia grove. Betcha my woman I can chase one down." Dumb guy says, "Boy, are you dumb. Besides, it's too hot to go chasin'. I'll watch, and tell your woman all about how you got so heatstroked." So the smart guy goes chasing, and sure enough he gets hot, but not before the gazelle gets so overheated it slows down. He keeps chasing, encouraged. The gazelle keeps sprinting away before he nabs it, but it sprints shorter and shorter distances, and pants harder and harder at each stop. Finally the critter collapses, so the guy kills it with a rock, discovers that butchering with split rock is even more challenging than it was with pre-dismembered lion-kills, but hey, it's worth it. He??shares the meat with two women that night.

Lather, rinse, repeat - a??gazillion??times.

So here we are, the guys are amazingly adapted to the midday sun. Their unkempt Afro hairdos look just like coolie hats. The rest of their skin is almost hairless, and riddled with sweat glands. Their noses have shrunk because tracking by scent is pretty hopeless without your nose to the ground. Instead, they track by sight, with incredibly sophisticated visual processing, requiring big brains. The brains require even more unique cooling adaptations, lots of blood circulation that's unexplainable otherwise, but the upshot is that they're smart enough to make cooking fire, which helps them to digest meals despite their undersized gut, so digestion doesn't interfere much with the blood going to the brain. Who needs claws and fangs and speedy legs when you got brains, fire, handmade weapons, and a really sweet job like High Lord of the Midday Sun? You can always put plenty of meat on the table. Meat, glorious meat.

So one day the dumb guy comes and says, "Hey, look what my woman gave me. She calls it an apple."

"I wouldn't trust it," says the smart guy. "Botanicals are full of weird chemicals. Don't eat it."

"I already been eating them, and more and more other stuff, too. Some require cooking, but we got fire, what's to worry?"??

"You look pretty sickly to me."

"That's okay, we're gonna have doctors for that, and machines to make up for our sickly physiques, and Rush Limbaugh to convince us that everything's okay while we destroy the world."

"I think I'll stay here in Eden."

"Good luck with that. We'll see who's smart enough to walk on the moon."

"Oh, is that what counts in life?"

"When you're sickly in the soul, it counts for everything."

"And what happens when ya suck up all the resources and foul your nest?"

"It's all part of the Serpent's great plan, smart ass."

Okay, so I took a few liberties with the theory. Better give ya a link to the real McCoy:



on September 25, 2011
at 10:40 PM

No, it's not OK, the only reason you see other posts that are not questions here is because the moderators are not online all the time and some slip through.

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2 Answers



on September 25, 2011
at 10:36 PM

But we're not carnivores so much as omnivores, somewhere between carnivores and herbivores. During the Pleistocene, most of the trees disappeared so there weren't so many to hang out in but we did learn how to herd a bunch of prey off high cliffs and learned how to make hats and huts out of plants. Looks like the serpent won. I'm not that up on biblical lore much but if I'm not mistaken, it wasn't apple but instead forbidden fruit. Still forbidden as far as I'm concerned. Mostly. But you can't go back to square one. Lets see, now what did I do with that link...?



on September 25, 2011
at 10:34 PM

I was watching a show today on Animal Planet where in this particular tribe, they had learned to take part of a kill from a pride of lions. In another tribe, they taught eagles to hunt for them.

I bet that idea alone, finally learning to let another animal do the work for you, is what made the big difference in evolving.

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