Re: Early Language

Ralph L Holloway (rlh2@COLUMBIA.EDU)
Fri, 16 Feb 1996 00:37:30 -0500

On Thu, 15 Feb 1996, Mr. E wrote:

> (snip)
> watched a documentary that proposed that early bipedal beings may have been
> scavengers subsiding on the remains of kills left by other scavengers.
> Specifically eating the marrow from the bones of the remains. Would this be
> an example of fisher-gatherer-scavenger-hunter ... or would scavenging (if
> done) be a subset of gathering?

Interesting question. I think this came out of Johanson's PBS series on
Human Evolution, the point being that there would have been a rich
nutritional resource from marrow. What makes this so interesting is that
scavaging was probably a far more social activity than gathering, in that
scavaging requires (at least if the kill is relatively fresh) social
cooperation to rid the killer species from the kill. This is usually
portrayed as a social group of hominids throwing sticks and stones and
making onehellofa racket to displace the carnivore (read Lion, Cheetah,
maybe leapord, jackel, possibly hyaena. I don't mean to say that
gathering (plant food and insects) wasn't social, but that scavaging
might have required a certain increased cohesiveness where it was the
concerted group effort that would be sucessful in moving the killer.
Maybe it would be best to just think of the three as examples of the food
quest: gathering, hunting, and scavaging, in alphabetical order, of course...
Ralph Holloway