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Humans were apex hunters for two million years – most of our Stone Age ancestors ate meat.

Caveman eating meat

Tel Aviv University researchers were able to recreate Neanderthal nutrition.

In a paper published in the Yearbook of the American Physical Anthropology Association, Dr. Miki Ben-Dor and Prof. Run Barkai from Jacob M.Alkov Department of Archeology at Tel Aviv University, in collaboration with Portugal̵

7;s Raphael Sirtoli, show: Human being Apex hunters for about two million years. Only the extinction of large animals (megas) in different parts of the world and the decline of animal feed sources in the late Stone Age led humans to gradually increase the vegetable composition in their nutrition until they eventually had no choice. Other than Raise both plants and animals – and become a farmer.

“Until now, much of the effort to recreate Neanderthal food has come from comparison with 20th century hunter gatherer societies,” explains Dr Ben-Dor. Two million years ago, a hunter-gatherer society was able to hunt and eat elephants and other large animals, while today’s hunter gatherers had no access to such bounty. All ecosystems have changed and conditions cannot be compared. We decided to use other methods to recreate the Neanderthal diet to examine our own bodies’ stored memories, their metabolism, heredity, and their physical formation. Human behavior changes rapidly. But evolves slowly The body remembers “

Human brain evolution

Human Brain.Credit: Dr.Miki Bendore

In a process that was previously unparalleled in its scope, Dr. Ben-Dor and his colleagues collected approximately 25 lines of evidence from approximately 400 scientific papers from different scientific disciplines to tackle the focused question: Neanderthals were special carnivores? Is it a common herbivore? Most evidence is found in current research into biology, including genetics, metabolism, physiology and morphology.

“One outstanding example is the acidity of the human stomach,” said Dr Ben-Dor. “Our gastric acidity is high compared to all herbivores and even other predators. Producing and maintaining a strong acidity requires a lot of energy, and its existence is evidence of the consumption of animal products. Its strong acidity protects against harmful bacteria found in meats and humans.In prehistoric times, large hunters with enough meat for days or weeks often consume old meats with lots of bacteria. So it is necessary to maintain a high acidity level.

Evolution of HTL during Pleistocene

The evolution of HTL during the Pleistocene as we interpret it based on the total amount of evidence.

Another indication of being a predator is the structure of the fat cells in our body. In the body of omnivores, fat is stored in relatively small amounts of large fat cells, while in predators, including humans, this is another option: we have a large number of small fat cells. It also found significant evidence of human evolution as a predator in our genome. For example, the geneticist concluded that “areas of the human genome were closed to allow for high-fat diets, while in chimpanzees, the genome regions were opened to allow a high-sugar diet.” ”

The evidence from human biology is supplemented by archaeological evidence. For example, research into stable isotopes in prehistoric human bones, as well as unique human hunting, shows that humans are adept at hunting large and medium-fat animals. Comparing humans to today’s large social predators, where everyone hunts large animals and receives more than 70% of their energy from animal sources, reinforces the conclusion that humans are adept at hunting large animals and are in fact. Large animal

Run Bar Kai

Sarun Barkai.Credits: Tel Aviv University

“Hunting big is not an afternoon hobby,” says Dr Ben-Dor. “It takes a lot of knowledge. Lions and hyenas are able to achieve these abilities after years of learning. It is evident that the remains of a large animal found in countless archaeological sites are the result of mankind’s high expertise as large hunters. Many researchers studying the mass extinction agree that human hunting played a key role in this extinction, and that there is no better proof of human expertise in large-scale hunting. For the most part, like today’s predators, hunting itself has been a vital human activity throughout most of human evolution. Other archaeological evidence, such as the fact that special tools for the acquisition and processing of vegetable foods, appeared only in the latter stages of human evolution – also support the incorporation of large animals in human diets throughout much of history. Of man “

The multidisciplinary revival, carried out by TAU researchers for nearly a decade, offers a complete paradigm shift in our understanding of human evolution. Contrary to the prevalent hypothesis that humans owe evolution and survival from dietary flexibility, which allowed them to combine hunting with vegetable diets, the picture taken here is that humans evolved largely animalistically. Big hunter

“Archaeological evidence does not ignore the fact that Neanderthals consumed plants either,” added Dr Ben-Dor, “but based on studies of this plant, it became a staple of the human diet during the period. Only the end of an era “

Evidence of genetic variation and the unique presence of stone tools for processing plants led the researchers to conclude that beginning about 85,000 years ago in Africa and about 40,000 years ago in Europe and Asia, the consumption of plant foods increased. Little by little The same is true for food diversity – according to different ecological conditions. This increase was accompanied by an increase in the local identity of the stone tool culture, which was similar to the diversity of material cultures in the hunter-gatherer society of the 20th century. Research indicates that humans are excellent hunters, similarities and prolonged continuity in stone tools, regardless of local ecology.

“Our study addresses current controversies, both scientific and non-scientific,” says Prof. Barkai. But only about the past But also related to the present and the future It is difficult to convince a vegetarian that his / her ancestors are not vegetarian and that people often confuse personal beliefs with scientific reality. Our studies are both multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary. We offer an unprecedented picture of coverage and breadth, which clearly shows that humans are predators specializing in large-scale hunting. As Darwin discovered, the adaptation of organisms to their acquisition and digestion was the main source of evolutionary change, thus claiming that humans were atop the predators throughout their development. It may provide fundamental insights into human biological and cultural evolution. ”

Reference: “Evolution of Human Nutrition Levels During Pleistocene” by Miki Ben Dor, Raphael Sirtoli and Ran Barkai, 5 March 2021, Available here. American Journal of Physical Anthropology..
DOI: 10.1002 / ajpa.24247

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