KOMPAS.com – A successful study reveals if for about two million years humans are apex predator.
However, the extinction of large animals (megafauna) in various parts of the world has caused the decline in animal food sources towards the end stone Age, causing humans to gradually add vegetable elements in their nutrition.
Until finally humans had no other choice to domesticate plants and become farmers.
These results were obtained after researchers from Tel Aviv University reconstruct nutrition stone age man.
“So far efforts to reconstruct the stone age human diet have been based largely on comparisons with 20th century hunter-gatherer societies,” said Dr. Miki Ben-Dor, researcher from Tel Aviv University as quoted from Phys, Tuesday (6/4/2021).
But this comparison is futile because two million years ago hunter-gatherer societies were able to hunt and eat elephants and other large animals.
Meanwhile, hunter-gatherers currently do not have access to this because the entire ecosystem has changed. So the conditions are incomparable.
This also led researchers to decide to use other methods to reconstruct the stone age human diet. This is done to check the memory stored in the body, metabolism, genetics, and the physical.
“Human behavior changes rapidly but evolution is slow, so the body will remember it,” says Ben-Dor.
Researchers then collected about 25 lines of evidence from about 400 scientific papers from various disciplines.
As a result, researchers found that stone age humans tended to consume animal protein. One of them can be seen from the acidity of the stomach.
“The acidity of our stomachs is high when compared to omnivores and even other predators and that is evidence that humans consume animal products,” explains Bem-Dor.
The high acidity provides protection from harmful bacteria found in meat.
The reason prehistoric man hunting large animals that are used to suffice for days or even weeks so they are likely to contain large amounts of bacteria.
Another indication that humans are top predators is the structure of fat cells in our bodies.
In omnivorous bodies, fat is stored in a relatively small number of large fat cells, whereas in predators, including humans, the opposite: has a much larger number of fat cells.
Human evolution as predators have also been found in our genome. Meanwhile, archaeological evidence also shows that human hunting practices specialize in hunting large and medium sized animals with high fat content.
“Hunting for big animals is not a new hobby,” said Ben-Dor again.
Meanwhile, evidence of the tools humans use to process plant-based foods appears only at a late stage human evolution.
Researchers say, evidence of plant-based food processing began about 85,000 years ago in Africa and about 40,000 years ago in Europe and Asia.
“Archaeological evidence does not ignore the fact that stone age humans also consumed plants, but plants only became a major dietary component towards the end of the stone age,” says Ben-Dor.
Some gradual increases also occur when humans consume plant foods. Whether it is in accordance with ecological conditions and is also accompanied by an increase in the uniqueness of the local culture.
This multidisciplinary reconstruction ended up not only supporting that large animals were a source of food for most of human history but at the same time providing a new paradigm in human evolution.
“We propose an unprecedented picture in terms of inclusiveness and breadth that clearly shows that humans were originally apex predators hunting large animals,” added Prof. Ran Barkai, another researcher involved.
Study published in Yearbook of American Physical Anthropology Association.