Re: history questions: meat, siberian land bridge, horses in the Americas

J. Clarke (
18 Dec 1996 08:06:25 GMT

Tuohy <> wrote in article
> In <> Rich Travsky <> writes:
> >
> >Tuohy wrote:
> >> [...]
> >>I'm just saying for a few thousand years man had no way of getting
> >>meat.Ok?
> >
> >No, not ok. First you admit that even chimps can hunt and obtain
> >meat, and in the same breath you claim early man couldn't.
> >
> Didn't,not couldn't.
> As I have said before,I am giving you the info as I have heard/read it.


You might want to read "Origins Reconsidered: In Search of What Makes Us
Human" by R. Leakey and R. Lewin, New York, Doubleday, 1992. The authors
are two of the major researchers and they give an excellent overview of the
state of knowlege as of 1992. For more specific information concerning the
Neandertals, you might want to check out "The Neanderthal Enigma: Solving
the Mystery of Modern Human Origins", by James Shreeve, New York, Morrow,
1995, which also contains a very extensive bibliography.

There is one point on which you will find all current authorities in
agreement, and that is that no species of genus Homo was purely vegetarian.
Australopithecus Afarensis, which is believed to be the ancestor of Homo,
but not in any sense human, appears to have been an omnivore. Three other
species of Australopithecus, A.Robustus, A. Africanus, and A. Boisei, none
of which were ancestral to humans or members of genus Homo, but which were
toolmaker at the same level as Homo Habilis, were apparently pure
vegetarians. They didn't last too long. Homo Habilis, the first critter
that was even remotely human (not very--they stood about three and a half
feet tall and had a brain not much bigger than a chimp's) was clearly an
omnivore, however he didn't appear to be much of a hunter, more of a
scavenger. He was also a toolmaker, but did not have fire. Homo Erectus
was the next ancestral human to come along. H. Habilis only more so and
closer to modern humans--a much larger creature, made better tools, knew
how to build fires, built substantial buildings, and hunted elephants.
Definitely not vegetarian. Next came H. Sapiens Neandertalensis. Much
stronger, huge brain, you name it, they killed it. And ate it. Not at
first, but over time their skills improved, and they had tools, fire, and
clothing at the outset. And there is no indication that they were _ever_
pure vegetarians. Why should they be when their relatively puny and
dimwitted ancestor H. Erectus was killing the most dangerous herbivore
around. Later came H. Sapiens Sapiens--there is considerable disagreement
over whether he is descended from H. Sapiens Neandertalensis or evolved
independently, but regardless, H. Sapiens Sapiens also had tools, fire,
clothing, and hunting from the outset, learned presumably from his H.
Erectus ancestors. Or so says Leakey, and in this matter I'll take his
word over your schoolbook. Or perhaps you are confusing one of the
vegetarian australopithecines with ancestral humans.

> Colleen Tuohy