Dead Animals Made Apes Become Human Beings

There is a scientific theory that says that prehistoric males did not play the key role in their communities

The issue of homo sapiens evolution keeps getting more and more hypotheses. Our genealogy table becomes broader and broader, although the outburst of evolution remains as mysterious as it was two million years ago. A widely-spread version says that fast changes of human appearance gave an incentive to the development of hunting skills in the beginning of the Ice Age. Scientist James O’Connel from the Utah University substantiates another theory: a human being became a human being, because it started eating carrion.

The story was rather happy. Men would go hunting and bring meat home. Meat was rich with nutritious substances, although other ancient apes could not get it. The hunting developed the spirit of cooperation. It made prehistoric people study their surroundings and use various tools. Evolution led to biological changes: brain became more prefect, eyesight became a dominating factor over sense of smell, jaws became lighter, arms became more adroit. Social structures and families appeared due to the need to search for food in separate groups. So, prehistoric men would go hunting and women would go to pick plants, taking care of children.

James O’Connel believes that it was absolutely different. The key role in the evolution did not belong to a hunter male, but to a collector female. It is not ruled out that it was a grandmother, not a mother, that played the most important role in that respect. A grandmother did not deal with raising children, she looked after food. A lot of archaeological discoveries say that early homo erectus males did not bring any meat at home. Archaeological excavations in Africa, on river banks, basically, reveal both animal bones and primitive stone tools. Those places are swarmed with predators, even up-to-date hunters prefer not to encounter them. James O’Connel says that prehistoric people were not likely to spend nights in those places. Predators would attack them easily at nighttime. The scientist believes that animal bones and stone tools were found at the places of so-called temporary dining-rooms. Groups of ancient people would gather near a body of a dead animal and eat it. Traces of stone tools were found on animal bones together with predators’ bites. Maybe, prehistoric people did not hunt at all? Maybe, they just ate dead animals that were killed by predators first? Scientists compared those marks to jags that carrion-eating people would leave on bones. Scientists came to conclusion that the biggest thing that ancient people could do was to frighten stuffed predators away from their dead preys.

Adult males were unable to feed their children. This means that mothers and grandmothers played more important roles for their survival. Older women would deal with collecting, while younger mothers had an opportunity to give birth to children and raise them. A human infant is the weakest creature among all biological species on the planet. Yet, it is weakness that provides long upbringing as well as an opportunity to share experience. The brain of a baby ape is 70% close to the brain of an adult ape. The remaining 30% appear in just a few months. However, the brain of a human infant makes up only 20% of its adult analogue, while the process of growth is over at the age of 23. Thus, the evolution assisted in the life span extension, which enlarged human bodies and delayed the maturity age. Therefore, most considerable changes in the evolution of a human life are explained with collecting, not hunting. This explanation sounds more reasonable. However, the followers of the “meat theory” do not give up. At the end of the day, a human being is the only predator of all apes, which means something already. In addition to that, prehistoric people might hunt not for animals, but for weaker species of their own kind. It is rather nutritious meat, really.

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Translated by Dmitry Sudakov

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