Meat eating and male as a provider may be more recent developments

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Female Providers: Researchers Begin to Doubt Early Man’s Hunting Role

According to some new anthropological research, the idea of early man hunting to provide food for his family may not be all that accurate. “The key roles in nourishing the evolution of people’s ancestors may have been played by females—mothers and grandmothers.”

In addition, the idea that high-protein meat eating is what helped mankind’s brain evolve may also be incorrect. “I think the brain change associated with meat-eating is overrated,” says James O’Connell, director of the Archaeological Center at the University of Utah. Rather, various finds lead researchers to believe the high risk and low return of hunting large game only paid off once a month or so, not enough to feed a family. Hunting may have been done more to elevate social status within a tribe rather than provide the main food source for a family.

It’s an interesting criticism of conventional wisdom that early man hunted meat to provide for his family, when in reality it’s possible that neither meat nor man played nearly as important of a role as initially thought.

2 Responses to “Meat eating and male as a provider may be more recent developments”

  1. Jamie

    The theories of Dr. O’Connell and various others in his “Hail to Grandma” camp have little basis in logic, or fact. Part of their theory is based on observations of the role of Grandmas in the modern day tribe of hunter/gatherers, the Hadza of east Africa. One problem with this is that the Hadza have never progressed, in fact, they’re on the verge of extinction. Secondly, O’Connell et. al. conclude that the difficulty the Hazda are experiencing in hunting in the 20th century mirrors that of 500,000 years ago. This is unlikely as the population of Africa, and therefore, competition for food, has increased tremendously. Unfortunately, for the Hazda, their competition has the enormous advantage of modern hunting tools as well.
    O’Connell then goes on to somehow conclude that if Homo Sapien Grandmas played a similar role, then they surely would be the prime factor in the evolution of humankind. That doesn’t really follow, does it?
    I doubt that early humans were so flush with food, that the men could waste time in inefficient hunting.
    O’Connell then concludes that human tools, mixed with animal bones at river sites, proves that men hunted very little. Does this follow? He claims that their were too many predators around these sites for safe hunting by humans. Weren’t humans predators themselves.
    Studies have repeatedly proven that the massive growth of the human brain required the fats and proteins provided by the meat, marrow and brain tissue consumed by humans, not the starchs of tubers.
    This new “Hail Grandma” theory is what we call politicized junk science, used merely to float political ideologies out to people via headlines. Most archeologists highly doubt this groups ideologies. Think harder.

  2. Jim

    They say killing only one “big game” animal per month isn’t enough to feed a family? How large are these families? Unless they have no way to preserve the meat (salting, refrigeration, etc), one animal per month should provide a significant amount of meat per person. Maybe you couldn’t eat meat for every meal, but I think one kill per month per family is not bad at all.

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