The Juicy History of Humans Eating Meat

The Juicy History of Humans Eating Meat

The Juicy History of Humans Eating Meat


The mouth watering smokiness of a rack of pork ribs. The juicy gluttony associated with a medium rare bacon cheeseburger. The easy pleasure of a salami sandwich on rye. One factor is clear – humans like meat. But so why do we consume a great deal more beef compared to the primate cousins of ours and how come we wired to drool at the sound as well as scent of steaks sizzling on the grill?


Scientists still have loads of questions that are unanswered concerning the origins as well as evolution of man meat eating, but there are a few strong theories regarding when, why and how we started to integrate larger quantities of meat in the omnivorous diet plan of ours.



Blame an old weather shift.

Between 2.6 as well as 2.5 million years back, the Earth got drastically hotter and drier. Before that climate change, the distant person ancestors of ours – collectively referred to as hominins – had been subsisting generally on fresh fruits, flowers, seeds, leaves, tubers along with bark. As the temperature rose, the lush forests shrank along with excellent grasslands thrived. As green vegetation became scarcer, evolutionary pressure pushed first humans to discover new energy sources of power.


The grassland savannas which spread throughout Africa supported growing numbers of grazing herbivores. Archaeologists have discovered big herbivore bones dating from 2.5 million years back with telltale cut marks from crude stone tools. The early hominin ancestors of ours were not competent hunters however, but probably scavenged the meat out of fallen carcasses.


“More grasses implies much more grazing animals, and much more old grazing animals implies much more meat,” says Marta Zaraska, writer of Meathooked: The Science and History of Our 2.5-Million-Years Obsession With Meat.


 When humans shifted to even unexpected meat eating, it did not take long to really make it a significant part of the eating habits of ours. Zaraska indicates that there is ample archaeological proof that by two million in the past the very first Homo species had been actively eating meat on a routine schedule.



Neanderthals hunting a zebra for meals.

Neanderthals hunting a zebra for meals.



Tools became our’ second teeth.’

It is not really a coincidence that the first evidence of widespread human meat eating coincides in the archaeological history with Homo habilis, the “handyman” of early humans. With sites in Kenya dating to two million years back, archaeologists have found a huge number of flaked fist sized hammerstones and stone “knives” near big heaps of animal bone fragments with corresponding butcher marks.


While the old human relatives of ours had healthier teeth as well as bigger tooth compared to modern male, the mouths of theirs as well as guts have been created for grinding up and also processing plant material, not raw meat. Often crude stone programs might run as a 2nd set of teeth, stripping hunks of flesh originating from a zebra carcass or maybe bashing open skulls as well as bones to buy at the nutrient rich marrow or perhaps brains within. By pre processing beef with instruments initially created to dig tubers as well as break receptive nuts, our ancestors made animal skin simpler to munch on as well as digest.


READ MORE: Did Homo Erectus Craft Complex Weapons & Tools?


A saber toothed tiger hunting the prey of its.

A saber toothed tiger hunting the prey of its.



Thank you, saber toothed tigers.

Primitive stone hand equipment are good for carving up carcasses or perhaps smashing open big bones, though they’re lousy for hunting living prey. This’s precisely why zooarchaeologists feel the meat eating person ancestors of ours living over a thousand years back were scavengers, not hunters.


A concept for the reason why a lot of butchered animal bones get into the archaeological history roughly 1.8 million years back is the fact that while first humans were lousy hunters, they had been living with several of the most effective killers to actually roam the earth: saber toothed cats.


Briana Pobiner, who studies the beginnings of man meat eating, wrote that “Between two-million and one- in the past the massive carnivore communities of the African savanna consisted not just of lions, hyenas, leopards, active dogs and cheetahs, as we come across these days, but additionally a minimum of 3 species of saber toothed cats, like one which was considerably bigger compared to the biggest male African lions. These cats might have hunted bigger prey, giving a lot more leftovers for first humans to scavenge.”


It is not clear in case humans “actively” scavenged by watching for the big cats to eliminate the prey of theirs after which scaring them off by tossing stones or even making loud noises, or even in case they “passively” scavenged what was left when the saber toothed hunters abandoned the kill of theirs. Active scavenging would preserve much more fresh beef, but carries some major risks.


READ MORE: Discovery of Oldest Human Fossil Fills Evolutionary Gap


A reconstruction of a pre historic cave male, at the Chicago Field Museum, consuming meat.

A reconstruction of a pre historic cave male, at the Chicago Field Museum, consuming meat.



Meat was the original’ brain food.’

The contemporary human mind is much bigger compared to that of various other primates as well as 3 times the dimensions of the main possessed by the distant ancestor Australopithecus of ours, the predecessor of Homo. But those large brains come at a price in they need tons of energy to use. Zaraska states our brains consume twenty % of our body’s complete power. Compare that to dogs and cats, whose brains require just three to four % of complete energy.


Meat, Zaraska states, had a crucial part in improving energy consumption to nourish the evolution of those huge, hungry brains. “Some scientists argue that meat is the thing that made us human,” she says.


When early hominins subsisted exclusively on fresh fruits, seeds & plant life, they expended a great deal more power on food breakdown. Millions of years back, the human gut was longer and more slowly, needing additional work to gain restricted calories from forage foods. With many of that power actually being expended on digestion, the human mind remained fairly small, akin to other primates now.


In comparison to foraged plants and fruits, Zaraska states, meat is a “high quality” meal – power dense with a lot of protein and calories. When humans started incorporating meat to the diet plan of theirs, there is much less of a requirement of a long digestive system equipped for processing tons of plant matter. Gradually, over a huge selection of a huge number of years, the human gut shrunk. This freed up power to be invested on the mind, that expanded explosively in size.


When humans began beef that is baking , it started to be much simpler to process efficiently and quickly, plus get those calories to feed our cultivating brains. The earliest obvious proof of humans cooking food goes back roughly 800,000 years back, though it might have begun sooner.




People continue eating meat since we like it, not since we want it.

Meat was certainly pivotal in the evolution of the human mind, but that does not imply that beef remains an irreplaceable part of the contemporary human diet plan. Zaraska states virtually any calorie dense meal will have had exactly the same impact on our early evolving brains – “it may were peanut butter” – but that beef happened to be publicly available.


We crave meat these days, in part, since our brains developed on the African savanna and continue to be wired to look for energy dense energy sources of protein. It is much like the penchant of ours for sugar, a rare calorie rich commodity to our foraging ancestors whose brains rewarded them for discovering fruit that is ripe.


But we likewise crave meat due to the cultural significance of its. cultures that are Various are definitely more or less meat centric, though there is an obvious correlation between wealth as well as meat consumption. Industrialized Western nations average over 220 pounds of meat every person every year, while probably the poorest African nations average under twenty two pounds per person.


An excessively meaty diet plan have been connected to heart disease, certain cancers and diabetes – issues our distant ancestors never had to be concerned about, since they did not live long adequate to fall victim to persistent disease. “The objectives of life for the ancestors of ours was different than ours,” says Zaraska. “Their aim was surviving to the subsequent day.”

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