Re: Early diets

J. Moore (
Sun, 22 May 94 14:27:00 -0400

> I have read that one of the differences between a herbivore and a
> carnivore is the postioning of the eyes. Herbivores having eyes on the
> sides of their heads for maximum field of vision to spot carnivores, and
> carnivores having eyes on the front to give binocular vision and better 3-
> d vision.
> JON W. PARKER AlliedSignal Engines, Phoenix, Az

But of course animals cannot be conveniently slotted into only those two
categories. Many animals are omnivorous -- humans are, and so are apes,
and it's overwhelmingly likely that early hominids were as well. In
addition, some animals thought of and generally categorized as
carnivorous are actually omnivorous, such as most (if not all) canids --
all the various wild dogs, wolves, foxes, coyotes.

Primates have eyes in front, yet are omnivorous, and that's omnivorous
with a HUGE portion of the diet being plants.

Using only two categories like that, with an either-or categorization,
results in simplistic mistakes. For instance, you can go into many
vegetarian "health" food stores and see a poster contrasting "the"
carnivorous animal's digestive system with that of "the" vegetarian
animal (generally a lion and a cow, respectively). The point they try
to make is that it isn't "natural" for humans to eat meat. The poster's
arguement makes a couple of simplistic mistakes in its arguement. One
is that humans have never been "naturally" carnivorous; neither have
they been "naturally" vegetarian. We're omnivorous, and "naturally"
rather opportunistic about it. The other dumb mistake (or perhaps
deliberate falsification) is the claim that our digestive system is much
like a cow's, which is a highly adapted system with a mighty weird
stomach. Even a gorilla, which eats a lot of grasses and such, has a
setup quite different from ours.

Point being: any claim that has you forced to choose between two and
only two categories has probably got a big hole in it. Always look for
a third category (or more); it almost always around.

Jim Moore

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