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Thread: What did our ancestors actually eat - and does it matter?

  1. #51

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    Default Re: Neanderthals were not carnivores

    The first humans were not meat eaters but gatherers, they ate fruits and nuts and such, food that was freely available. So there goes the argument out the window that the first humans were hunters, is a load of bollocks (excuse the language)

  2. #52
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    Default Re: Neanderthals were not carnivores

    I'm afraid I would disagree. Humans, Neanderthals, and other hominid species from the Paleolithic were indeed hunter/gatherer groups of about ~50. As such they likely ate far less meat/grains than modern humans. However, I would expect they ate small amounts of land game as well as marine animals. Ancient hominid diets would likely have been largely determined by circumstance. As with all animals, they ate what they could find.

    For instance, we know that the Lakota tribes essentially lived on bison meat year-round long before European colonists and therefore horses arrive. Similarly, Inuit groups pretty much lived on fish. Meanwhile, tropical tribes largely subsisted on fruits.

    Neanderthals appear to be the same. Some groups ate large amounts of vegetables and grains, others ate significant amounts of fish (1-2).

    Our primate cousins are the same. Chimps, bonobos, and orangutangs largely eat fruit but consume bugs as well as defeated enemy tribe members.

    Nice idea though.

    1. Henry et al., PNAS December 27, 2010
    2. Stinger et al., PNAS September 23, 2008 vol. 105 no. 38 14319-14324

  3. #53
    baffled harpy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Neanderthals were not carnivores

    I think you're right, toro - for most of prehistory and history humans would have eaten whatever they could get, and that would have varied quite a bit depending on time and place.

    Fortunately, those of us in the affluent west (at least) are able to do very well without animal foods now.

  4. #54
    Ex-admin Korn's Avatar
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    Default "Ardipithecus Ramidus - An Ancient Human Ancestor Surprise"

    Ardipithecus ramidus is an ancient hominin first discovered in 1994; over 110 specimens have been recovered from several different sites in the Afar rift of Ethiopia since that time. The 4.4 million year old creature was a tall, tree-climbing and bipedal fellow with a predominantly plant-based diet. They lived in a woodland environment and while they were certainly not fully human, neither did they exhibit climbing and walking strategies of modern chimpanzees or gorillas.
    More here.
    I will not eat anything that walks, swims, flies, runs, skips, hops or crawls.

  5. #55
    Ex-admin Korn's Avatar
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    Default Paranthropus aethiopicus on a "largely vegetarian diet"

    I will not eat anything that walks, swims, flies, runs, skips, hops or crawls.

  6. #56
    baffled harpy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Paranthropus aethiopicus on a "largely vegetarian diet"

    Yes, but look where it got them! Sorry - couldn't resist (runs and hides).

  7. #57
    Ex-admin Korn's Avatar
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    Default Our ancestors: Who/where/when (and what did they eat)?

    Some meat eaters claim that we should eat meat 'because our ancestors ate meat'. But not only is there no reason to copy what some - or many - of our ancestors did ********* years ago, there's an ongoing disagreement - both about who our ancestors really were, and what they were eating. There are also many hominoids we know very little about. And when there's some firm knowledge about some of these hominoids' diet, this info refers to what they were eating in a certain period.

    The whole "we should eat what they ate" has many similarities to the idea that we should live on a Stone Age diet. There hasn't been one central Takeaway Kitchen delivering the same meals to all human like creatures - not in the Stone Age, and not in other periods. What people (and 'people like' creatures) are was dependent on factors: eg. where they lived.

    Scientists demonstrate again and again that they don't all agree in a common set of theories about what our ancestor ate. And whenever there seems to be some reliable info about where and when the first hominoids existed, new info pops up questioning the existing mainstream views.

    One obvious limitation of the reasoning behind 'we should eat what our ancestors ate' is that if we should follow that theory, it would make sense our ancestors also should have eaten what their ancestors ate, This means that new discoveries and knowledge about what we/they could and probably should eat should have been ignored for hundreds of thousands - no, millions - of years. Doesn't sound like a good model for anything which includes an element of 'evolution'...

    From http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases...0622072744.htm
    Oldest Eurasian Hominoids Lived in Swabia: Molar Tooth Dated at 17 Million Years Old

    ScienceDaily (June 22, 2011) — Africa is regarded as the center of evolution of humans and their precursors. Yet long before modern humans left Africa some 125,000 years ago, their antecedents migrated from Africa to Eurasia many times, as is documented in the fossil record. How often, when and why hominoids went "out of Africa" is still a hotly debated field of intense research. Possibly, the first wave of emigration occurred 17 million years before the present, as documented by finds in the Swabian northern Alpine foreland basin, southwest of Sigmaringen.

    Researchers from Tübingen successfully pinpointed the age of a molar tooth at 17 to 17.1 Ma, together with colleagues from Helsinki, Munich and Stuttgart. It is thus the oldest known Eurasian hominoid found to date. The results are now published in the Journal of Human Evolution. The owner of the tooth once inhabited a lakeside landscape with subtropical vegetation in a warm-humid climatic zone. Today, there is an abandoned quarry at the locality known among palaeontologists for its fossiliferous layers.



    Sometimes theories about our ancestors and their diet isn't even based on having found one full, single skeleton. In this case, they found a molar tooth:

    I will not eat anything that walks, swims, flies, runs, skips, hops or crawls.

  8. #58
    Ex-admin Korn's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Oldest Eurasian Hominoids Lived in Swabia: Molar Tooth Dated at 17 Mill. Ye

    ...and just to illustrate further how little we still know about who our ancestors really were, where they lived, and in which periods the various species lived (let alone what they had for dinner), here are some more links.

    The first one was posted yesterday:

    Human Ancestor Older Than Previously Thought; Finding Offers New Insights Into Evolution

    New Human Species Discovered: Mitochondrial Genome of Previously Unknown Hominins from Siberia Decoded (2010)

    'Peking Man' Older Than Thought; Somehow Adapted To Cold
    (2009)

    New Kenyan Fossils Challenge Established Views On Early Evolution Of Our Genus Homo (2007)
    I will not eat anything that walks, swims, flies, runs, skips, hops or crawls.

  9. #59

    Default Re: Neanderthals were not carnivores

    You don't have to be affluent to be vegan! Especially if you know how to cook, you'll find that vegan foods are actually cheaper...in fact, I don't know how I ever would have made it back in my student days if I had to pay for expensive things like meat!

  10. #60
    The_Westons
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    Default Re: Neanderthals were not carnivores

    Including the disease scares out today, ie: mad cow disease, swine flu, bird flu did anyone hear of that poor woman who became paraplegic from eating some infected chicken from KFC?

  11. #61

    Default Re: Neanderthals were not carnivores

    Quote fresherthanlife View Post
    You don't have to be affluent to be vegan! Especially if you know how to cook, you'll find that vegan foods are actually cheaper...in fact, I don't know how I ever would have made it back in my student days if I had to pay for expensive things like meat!
    I think what harpy meant by "affluent" is that in these modern times, in the Western world, we have modes of transportation that ancient people did not have. Therefore food can be transported further distances and in massive quantities. The types of foods available to us are more varied and readily available. We have grocery stores and restaurants and farmers markets and so on. We also have the equipment to process things like grains to make breads etc and spend less time on food gathering and preparation. In some more primitive cultures these things are not available. One could still technically eat vegan in some primitive cultures depending on the climate and type of land, living on nuts, seeds, wild fruits and vegetables but it would be harder since sources of food might not be as plentiful and might depend on weather patterns etc. I rely on beans/legumes daily for my protein as well as an abundance of fruits and vegetables and grains and much of these things I might not find locally if it werent for the "affluent" society I live in.

  12. #62
    baffled harpy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Neanderthals were not carnivores

    Yes, thanks, Robinwomb. That is what I meant - also simply that most people in the developed world have the luxury of choice, whereas those elsewhere don't. You can't really criticise people who are in danger of starvation for eating the first thing that comes along.

    In practice it might be possible to overcome hunger in the developing world by shifting to a completely plant-based diet there, but there are regions where food production currently centres on the use of animals that can graze land that's unsuitable for agriculture. There's some discussion here http://www.vegansociety.com/resource...ment/land.aspx

    I certainly agree that for people in the west a vegan diet can be a lot cheaper than a non-vegan one, though.
    Last edited by harpy; Apr 27th, 2012 at 12:13 PM.

  13. #63
    splodge
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    Default Re: Neanderthals were not carnivores

    The point the OP was making was that Neanderthals did not eat a carnivorous diet, as was previously thought, but one that contained some plant matter.

    Homo sapiens were categorically designed to solely eat plant matter. We're also designed to live in the tropics. That's why we must have the artificial creations of clothing and shelter to survive the winter. The thing that separates humans from other animals is that we're naturally unnatural. (Look at us sitting here tapping away on the computer!) Any habitat of a species can only support a limited number of individuals, but humans didn't accept that, and moved out of their habitat rather than succumbing to competition. We inevitably had to go against our biology and eat meat as we moved into areas with not much fruit available, or non-tropical areas with a winter season. So I agree that the very first human ancestors were "vegan".

  14. #64
    Ex-admin Korn's Avatar
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    Default – Ancient Human Ancestors Had Unique Diet

    Ancient Human Ancestors Had Unique Diet


    [QUOTE]
    ScienceDaily (June 27, 2012) — When it came to eating, an upright, 2 million-year-old African hominid had a diet unlike virtually all other known human ancestors, says a study led by the Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany and involving the University of Colorado Boulder.

    The study indicated that Australopithecus sediba -- a short, gangly hominid that lived in South Africa -- ate harder foods than other early hominids, targeting trees, bushes and fruits. In contrast, virtually all other ancient human ancestors tested from Africa -- including Paranthropus boisei, dubbed "Nutcracker Man" because of its massive jaws and teeth -- focused more on grasses and sedges, said CU-Boulder doctoral student Paul Sandberg, a co-author on the new study.



    A high-tech dental analysis of a 2-million-year-old hominid from South Africa involving CU-Boulder researchers indicates it had a unique diet that included trees, bushes and fruits. (Credit: Photo courtesy Paul Sandberg, University of Colorado)

    More here.

    From another site, about the same finding:

    http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/wil...e-in-the-woods

    "There is more variety in our past than we expected," said researcher Amanda Henry, a paleoanthropologist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. "We're seeing more variation among the diets and behaviors of early hominins than we'd previously seen."

    The findings suggest "there wasn't a single, straight line from an early, primitive hominin to us," Henry told LiveScience. "Many of our ancestors and relatives branched out, tried new things and generally worked at doing what was best in their environment at that particular time."
    I will not eat anything that walks, swims, flies, runs, skips, hops or crawls.

  15. #65
    Ex-admin Korn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Were did our ancestors actually eat - and does it matter?

    I just merged almost 20 short threads about what our ancestors may have eaten. Here's a new article I just came across, suggesting that our ancestors tended to "mostly eat vegetable matter":

    http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/...l-vegetarians/
    I will not eat anything that walks, swims, flies, runs, skips, hops or crawls.

  16. #66

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    Default Re: What did our ancestors actually eat - and does it matter?

    I have been thinking about this issue recently as well and wrote a blog post explaining why I think our ancestors ate mostly a plant-based diet. http://kamalprasad.com/blog/but-but-...rs-ate-animals

  17. #67

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    Default Re: What did our ancestors actually eat - and does it matter?

    I believe that many of our ancestors were on a predominant plant-based diet. I also believe that what our ancestors ate has little to do with how we should be eating in today's world. We live in a society where food is everywhere you turn; and not just any food - food packed with empty calories and fat!

    For early humans, meat was a concentrated package of calories and nutrients that fueled their incredibly labor-intensive lifestyles at a time when food scarcity was common. As nutrition expert Dr. John McDougall writes: “A traditional Arctic Eskimo, living in a subfreezing climate, could expend 6,000 calories and more a day just to keep warm and hunt for food. The high-fat animal food sources—fish, walrus, whale, and seal—from his local environment were the most practical means of meeting the demands of those rigorous surroundings.”
    However, modern life, with its office jobs, cars, and central heating, does not exactly impose the same physical demands on the human body. For this reason, those concentrated packages of calories and nutrients don’t make sense, says Dr. McDougall. “Modern Eskimos living in heated houses and driving around in their climate-controlled SUVs, still consuming a high-meat diet, have become some of the fattest and sickest people on earth.”

    As Rip Esselstyn writes, "Meat eating may well have played an important part in our human past. In hunter-gatherer societies, where bringing home the bison was a full-time job, meat was a calorie-packed supplement to an otherwise plant-based diet. But in the twenty-first century, most of us have full-time jobs where failure doesn’t imply starvation. We are trying to take calories out of our diets, not pack them in. Food is readily available in the most benign hunting ground imaginable—the supermarket.

    Besides, today's animals are bred for their meat. The antibiotics used and the diseases they carry far separate them from what they once were.

  18. #68

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    Default

    I suggest that our ancestors ate whatever they could lay their hands on. I'm not sure ethics was such a concern as survival would have been more of an issue. I also suggest the diet of our ancestors would have largely depended on where they were. If living near the equator where a variety of plant based foods would have been available all year round, whereas in more temperate climbs meat would have been essential for survival.

  19. #69

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    Default Re: What did our ancestors actually eat - and does it matter?

    I wouldn't care if meat is 'natural'. There are so many things I find messed up about the way the human race works and I get sick of people picking and choosing what 'natural' parts of humanity they want to use.

  20. #70

    Default Re: What did our ancestors actually eat - and does it matter?

    Quote misosoup View Post
    I wouldn't care if meat is 'natural'. There are so many things I find messed up about the way the human race works and I get sick of people picking and choosing what 'natural' parts of humanity they want to use.
    I agree with you 100%! I especially get irritated with the paleo/caveman diet that claims grains are unnatural to humans and detrimental to health and a high fat high meat diet is more natural, yet they have no problems driving cars and sitting and typing on a computer all day. How natural are these things for humans?

  21. #71

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    Default Re: What did our ancestors actually eat - and does it matter?

    Haha! I know right,? Many things that we fight against are technically 'natural'. I have a 'friend' who is on the paleo diet, and claims that it's just the 'natural order of things'. He acknowledges the meat industry is horrible but thinks we 'need meat', these people are even worse than the ignorant ones! Yet complains about how he was bullied, which is basically the strongest picking on the weakest. So it's OK to 'other' animals and buy into the 'natural way of things' and exploit them. But when humans exploit each other, that's wrong? Total hypocrisy. I'm really starting to lose my patience and any sympathy with meat eaters who use this defense. They're cowards.
    Last edited by misosoup; Aug 27th, 2013 at 08:52 AM.

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