Re: Early diets

Jon. Feinstein (jfeinstein@UMASSD.EDU)
Wed, 4 May 1994 02:20:00 GMT

In article <2q3aje$>, (David L Burkhead ) writes:
>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..
> David L. Burkhead
Also, the developed reasoning power of Homo, at least from erectus and
on, gives the ability to observe one's intended prey, note its behavior
patterns and develop a strategy based on those observations. As an
example it is quite possible, for any reasonable fit person, to run
down and catch a jack-rabbit. When running, a rabbit will tend to run a
straight line for only so long, then it will turn at a right angle.
It's a 50-50 proposition, but if you run at a 45 degree angle to the
path of the rabbit, it will eventually turn. If your timing is right
and the beats goes your way it will run directly into your arms. I
can't do it, but I've seen it done. I imagine that other desireable
prey may have similarly observable habits that can be exploited.
This, of course, does not answer the question as to what other
hominids may have eaten, but I'd guess at plant life, certain insects,
and scavenged left overs of other predators' kills...
Jonathan Feinstein
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