Re: Early diets

David L Burkhead (
2 May 1994 16:43:26 GMT

In article <> (Jeff Smith) writes:
>It seems clear to me that man is not an herbivore by nature (claims
>to the contrary have been made elsewhere). But I'm curious as to
>what man may have eaten prior to tools & fire - if those are indeed
>significant dietary milestones.
>We don't seem terribly suited to running down and grabbing prey; and
>yet we existed for a considerable period before the above technologies.
>What's the scoop on early diets?
>-Jeff Smith

While I can't speak for Australopithecines and their
predecessors, modern man is _very_ well adapted for running down prey,
not in the sprint, but at long distances.

There are (or were until recently, I'm not up on current events)
groups that hunted by doing just that. They would come upon a herd of
grazing animals and get them moving, not stampeded, just moving. Then
they would keep them moving, all day, and all night (if necessar) and
the next day, and so on. Eventually one or more of the animals will
drop from sheer exhaustion and the hunters will stroll up and kill it.

This is possible because of several features of modern man: the
bipedal gait is very efficient, allowing us to cover distance with
minimal energy expenditure; humans have a highly efficient heat
removal system, letting us dump waste heat quickly rather than being
forced to cease exertion to prevent heat exhaustion; our erect posture
gives us a quite long view for our size so that we can see the animals
at a distance, and track them where other sight hunters would have
lost track.

David L. Burkhead