Early diets

Ken Brown (rkjb@cix.compulink.co.uk)
Thu, 5 May 1994 02:00:17 +0000

> Group: sci.anthropology.paleo
> From: jeffs@vnet.ibm.com (Jeff Smith)
> Subject: Early diets
> 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.

Typical disclaimer - I am neither an anthropologist nor a dentist.
However, I see no reason to suppose that we are not evolved to be omnivores
majoring in fruit, seeds & nuts. ISTR a Sci Am article a few months ago (or
was it New Scientist?) claiming both that human and ape dentition more
closely resembles that of fruit eating monkeys than that of other monkeys and
that fruit-eating primates have larger brains & exhibit more complex social
behaviour than related leaf-eating species.

In general I think it would be a mistake to assume that there was ever just
one human niche or reproductive strategy. Our ancestors achieved their
unusually large range by being able to adapt to a wide variety of diets.
There were undoubtably entirely carnivorous H. erectus groups & undoubtably
entirely vegetarian ones & all points between,

Is is just me that has a think about talking about "man" in the collective
singular? I would much prefer the sentence "man is not an herbivore" to have
been written "humans are not herbivores". Better English leads to better