Researchers at Tel Aviv University were able to reconstruct the nutrition of humans in the Stone Age.
In a paper published in the “American Anthropological Anthropology Annals”
Dr. Ben-Dor explained: “So far, attempts to reconstruct the diet of humans in the Stone Age have been mainly based on comparisons with the hunter-gatherer society of the 20th century.” “However, this comparison is futile because two million years ago The hunter and gatherer society in China can hunt and eat elephants and other large animals, but today’s hunter-gatherers cannot get this bounty. The entire ecosystem has changed and conditions cannot be compared. We decided to use other methods to rebuild The diet of humans in the Stone Age: Examine the memories stored in our own bodies, our metabolism, genetics and body structure. Human behavior changes rapidly, but evolution is slow. The body will remember.”
In an unprecedented process, Dr. Ben-Dor and his colleagues collected about 25 pieces of evidence from about 400 scientific papers in different scientific fields, and solved the following key questions: Whether humans in the Stone Age were specialized carnivores or generalists Omnivores? ? Most of the evidence is found in research on current biology, namely genetics, metabolism, physiology and morphology.
Dr. Ben-Dor said: “A prominent example is the acidity of the human stomach.” “Compared with omnivores and even other carnivores, the acidity in our stomach is very high. The production and maintenance of strong acidity requires a lot of energy, and its existence is food. Evidence of animal products. Strong acidity can protect meat and prehistoric humans from harmful bacteria, hunting large animals, the meat of these animals can be eaten for days or even weeks, and they often eat old meat that contains a lot of bacteria, so it needs to be maintained Higher acidity.”
Another sign of a predator is the structure of fat cells in our body. In the body of an omnivorous animal, fat is stored in relatively few large fat cells, while in predators including humans, the opposite is true: we have a large number of smaller fat cells. Important evidence of human evolution as a predator has also been found in our genome. For example, geneticists concluded: “The human genome area is closed for a high-fat diet, whereas in chimpanzees, the genome area is opened up for a high-sugar diet.”
The evidence of human biology has been supplemented by evidence from archaeology. For example, the study of stable isotopes in the bones of prehistoric humans and the unique hunting methods of humans indicate that humans specialize in hunting large and medium-sized animals with high fat content. Comparing humans with today’s large social predators, all of these people prey on large animals and derive more than 70% of their energy from animal resources, which further leads to the following conclusion: humans specialize in predating large animals and are actually carnivores.
Dr. Ben Dole said: “Hunting large animals is not an afternoon hobby.” “It requires a lot of knowledge. After years of learning, lions and hyenas can acquire these abilities. Obviously, the large animal remains found in countless archaeological sites are humans. As a result of the high expertise of large animal hunters. Many researchers studying the extinction of large animals agree that human hunting plays a major role in this extinction-there is no better evidence that humans specialize in hunting large animals. Just like in today’s natural enemies, hunting is likely to be a key human activity in the entire evolutionary process of humans. Other archaeological evidence (for example, the fact that special tools for obtaining and processing vegetable food only appeared in the later stages of human evolution) also support This has marked the central position of large animals in human diets throughout human history.”
TAU researchers have carried out a multidisciplinary reconstruction for nearly a decade, and have proposed a radical change in the understanding of human evolution. Contrary to the popular belief that human evolution and survival are due to the flexibility of diet, this diet allows humans to combine hunting animals with vegetable food. The picture that appears here is that humans evolved mainly as predators of large animals.
Dr. Ben-Dor added: “The archaeological evidence does not ignore the fact that humans in the Stone Age also consumed plants.” “But according to the findings of this study, plants did not become a major part of human diet until the end of the era.”
The researchers concluded that starting from Africa about 85,000 years ago, and Europe and Asia about 40,000 years ago, evidence of genetic changes and the emergence of unique stone tools used in processing plants led the researchers to conclude that along with diet Diversity-according to different ecological conditions. This growth is accompanied by an increase in the local uniqueness of the stone tool culture, which is similar to the diversity of material culture in the hunter-gatherer society in the 20th century. On the contrary, according to the researchers, during these 2 million years, humans were the highest predators. Regardless of the local ecological conditions, long-term similarities and continuities have been observed in stone tools.
Professor Barkai said: “Our research has resolved the current very big controversy-scientific and non-scientific.” “For many people today, the Paleolithic diet is not only the past, but also the present and the future. A crucial question. It is difficult to convince a devout vegetarian that his/her ancestors were not vegetarians, and people tend to confuse personal beliefs with scientific reality. Our research is multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary. We propose An unprecedented picture in terms of inclusiveness and breadth clearly shows that humans were originally top predators, specializing in hunting large animals. As Darwin discovered, adapting species to acquire and digest food is an evolutionary change The main source, therefore, the claim that humans are the supreme carnivores during most of their development may provide a broad basis for basic insights into biology and cultural evolution.”
Reference: Miki Ben-Dor, Raphael Sirtoli and Ran Barkai published “The Evolution of Human Nutrition in the Pleistocene” on March 5, 2021, American Journal of Physical Anthropology.
DOI: 10.1002 / ajpa.24247