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From Veggies to Meat: Man-Apes become Human

  1. Jun 16, 2007 #1
    From Veggies to Meat: Man-Apes become human

    The “man-apes” of Africa (australopithecines) was first discovered in a 1924 dig. This is considered by anthropologists as being one of the most exciting and enlightening finds of modern anthropology. The man-ape, which was first born perhaps a million years ago, represents the transition point of the transformation from ape to human. From the shuffling vegetarian ape to the upright walking carnivore human, this man-ape creature had the brain one-half the size of the modern human.

    Most of what we now consider to be human has resulted from the taste for meat developing in this man-ape creature. Hunting for meat requires hunting in groups, which in turn requires better communication between individuals, which in turn requires better tools and weapons, which in turn requires newer forms of social organization, all of which leads to greater intellectual sophistication.

    This greater intellectual sophistication has led this newly evolving species into the development of a much larger brain with the sophisticated reasoning ability of the modern human. Meat eating has made humans of us.

    “Man developed away from the apes precisely because he had to hunt meat; and if you want to hunt meat you cannot afford yourself the luxury of baboon behavior.”

    As a result of our carnivorous appetite we have developed non-primate social relations; we now regulate sexual behavior and develop families requiring new social harmonies. We now acquire our recognition from others not based upon what we take but from what we give. “Unlike the baboon who gluts himself only on food, man nourishes himself mostly on self-esteem…The hunting band lives in the security of internal peace necessary to get food, of the right of all to partake of what food there is, and of the certainty of the provision of regular sexual partners for all.”

    We are now beginning to comprehend the fact that humans are primarily unique because wo/man is a total celebration of itself in distinctive self-expression.

    Quotes from “The Birth and Death of Meaning”—Ernest Becker
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 16, 2007 #2


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    There's a major problem with this idea, namely that baboons, as well as other non-human primates, DO eat meat, and even hunt for that meat.

  4. Jun 17, 2007 #3

    Perhaps that is what led to the man-ape mutation.
  5. Jun 17, 2007 #4


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    That seems to be substantial oversimplification, and seems to ignore the complex social structure in baboon and chimpanzee groups.


    To try to relate current primate populations (based on observations of the last several decades or century) to humanoid from 1 million years ago seems rather problematic, and fraught with speculation.

    Apparently however there are studies which show that consumption of meat, or perhas a diet high in B-vitamins and protein, does encourage brain development.

    ‘Brain food’ may have made us smarter
    Ancient change in diet could have fostered bigger brains, scientist says

    Maternal Seafood Consumption Benefits Fetal Brain Development

    It could be a combination of elements, minerals, vitamins and protein, which enhances brain development.

    This thread seems more appropriate in biology, than philosophy. :smile:

    Just noticed this -
    Mercury comes from power plants and is a by-product of coal and perhaps oil.
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2007
  6. Jun 17, 2007 #5
    If the development of intelligence was really triggered by hunger for meat, you would expect to see other intelligent carnivores. Meat eaters have existed long before mankind but archeologists have not found any tools next to these dinosaurs in spite of their much longer existence. It doesn't seem to me that hunting would be a trigger but rather a collateral event given the mental ability to do so.
  7. Jun 17, 2007 #6
    the chimps eat meat and most of them are cannibals
  8. Jun 17, 2007 #7
    You mean errr, chimpacidal? Chimps have been recorded to eat others, I think mostly infant chimps though. And the ones doing it have been female chimps, so that it's thought to be a form of female infanticide.
  9. Jun 17, 2007 #8


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    Humans are omnivorous

    Not necessarily. Lone hunters can down prey. Hunting in groups is possibly more effective, and perhaps provides better security.

    Perhaps humans simply watch wolves hunting packs, or large cats hunting heard animals. Humans then simply learned to hunt, either in groups or individually, by observation.

    Clearly there is more to brain development than simply diet, with meat or veggies.
  10. Jun 17, 2007 #9
    no...most of cannibalism practiced between chimps is due to territorial wars between sets or groups of chimps...one set of chimps "declares war" to another set of chimps and in the end the winning clan actually eat their enemies as a trophy...chimps meat is consider a delicacy to them, mainly the brain, and they used to chop their opponents nuts off too XD
  11. Jun 17, 2007 #10


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    If I remember my history right, it was the advantage of learning agriculture that advanced civilisation. Before agriculture, humans hunted in nomadic groups which prevented them from stabilizing a community and allowing members free time to think, experiment, and advance themselves. This only happened after they learned to cultivate crops and the need to move with the herds no longer was crucial to staying alive.

    Agriculture is what separated us from baboons, if you want to put it that simply.
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2007
  12. Jun 18, 2007 #11
    Graduated with a B.A. in biological anth here, and I've never heard of this being a common practice among chimps. You have some evidence? If it's true, I'd really like to know it!
  13. Jun 18, 2007 #12
    Actually, in anthropology nowadays, they don't say "advanced" when talking about cultures or cultural evolution. It's really a relic of unilineal evolution: savagery - barbarism - civilization. Agriculture did result in changes, but whether or not those changes were necessarily "good" is another thing. This so-called "progress" resulted in
    -increased birth rates (women now fertile year round rather than 4x per year), paralleled by increased infant mortality
    -a drop in populations initially which didn't turn around for some time
    -increased pathologies due to sedentism (e.g. tuberculosis)
    -shifts in the relationship between labor and "pay off" (takes months for harvest)
    -increased amount of labor required
    -shifts in nutrition (too much sugar resulting in dental and nutritional problems)

    And it wasn't like those who didn't shift were lagging - they simply didn't need to adopt it. They were well aware of it and rejected it. However, they were gradually displaced by agriculturists and either disappeared, existed on fringes, or were absorbed into farming economies. Another thing, you can have sedentism with foraging and hunting. Bottom line, agriculture does not equal advancement. It actually screwed Africa up royally (among other things).
  14. Jun 18, 2007 #13
    Quite an oversimplification of an already simplistic theory.

    They were omnivorous, from wiki:
    And, there was an article out in 1999 that puts forth the theory that a diet of cooked tubers may have been a causal link to bigger brains. Read here.

    1. They were scavengers first, hunting came much later and with very high costs.

    2. The causal link between more complex brains and tool use is unclear. Did using tools lead to changes in brain development, or did brain development lead to the creation of different tools? Specifically, I'm drawing this from the change in the Oldowan (2.5-1.5 mya) to the Acheulean (1.7 million to 250,000 years ago) culture. Early and Late Acheulean tool assemblages are associated with both H. ergaster and H. heidelbergensis, respectively.

    3. Intensification of hunting was necessitated by the shift to ice ages.

    4. From "Eating Meat: Evolution, Patterns, and Consequences," by Vaclav Smil, in POPULATION AND DEVELOPMENT REVIEW 28(4):599-639 (DECEMBER 2002).

    Not even worth a reply.

    This is primate social behavior. Read some Frans de Waal if you're interested in this topic.
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2007
  15. Jun 18, 2007 #14
    The Swerve

    Thanks for the Frans de Waal reference. I am a student of these matters and try to find the best thinkers for my learning activity.
  16. Jun 20, 2007 #15
    Your post is quite romantic, but people are bigger pigs than pigs, that is, we can eat a wider variety of foods than a pig can.

    Nonetheless, we do possess a hunting style that is unique in all the animal kingdom: We can run after a moving animal and hit it with a rock or a stick. This requires an intense amount of parallel processessing in the brain and the most remarkable two footed agility on the planet. World class sprinters can even outrun a horse in the hundred yard dash. It always amazes me just how close many animals will allow me to get before running off. If they only knew.

    People's brains were only one third their current size when early hominids began hunting with stone tools and using fire. However, physically they were virtually indistinguishable from modern man. Over the next million and a half years our brains began exploding in size until some eighty thousand years ago a mutation in our fox 2 gene appeared. This is one of the genes responsible for complex language, and it's arrival coincided with the inventions of art, fine tools, religion, etc. In fact, this evolution is thought to still be ongoing as a further refinement in the fox 2 gene has occured since then.

    Size is simply not enough when it comes to brains. Having a large brain does not mean you will be the next Albert Einstein or that anyone in your family will be. In fact, you could all be autistic for all it implies. The organization of the brain is at least as important as size, and our physical ability to put that organization to practical use has played a major role in our evolution.

    Which came first, the chicken or the egg? It seems that a lot of physiological changes occured before our brains changed significantly. Current thinking is that Africa suffered a severe climate change into the rather dry savana that we know today. Proto humans came down out of the trees out of necessity and began migrating through the tall grasses. In order to do so they changed to walking more up right in order to not only see preditors coming through the tall grass, but to limit the amount of their bodies that was exposed to the hot sun at any given time.
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2007
  17. Jun 22, 2007 #16
    Do you perhaps have a source for this info? We know this gene had mutated due to the divergence from other primates. Since we diverged from chimps millions of years ago, I am curious where you came up with 80 thousand years? Is there some pre-historic DNA out there from this era?? :uhh:
  18. Jun 23, 2007 #17
  19. Jun 23, 2007 #18
    From the aricle:
    This is obviously more of a biology type discussion than philosophy, I just wanted to point out that the claim you made about THE reason for humans evolving language skills as well as WHEN it occured was highly speculative and somewhat overly simplistic. (I've noticed that the Discovery Channel allows this frequently) The truth is nobody knows or can know when the mutations took place, only that it was sometime in the last few million years.

    ...if only we could extract DNA out of fossils. That would answer alot of questions. :smile:
  20. Jun 23, 2007 #19
    I only claimed that it allowed complex language to evolve. No doubt people had some communications skills before foxp2 changed, but the evidence does support the idea that not only did the foxp2 change our language skills dramatically, but our ability to comprehend.
  21. Jun 25, 2007 #20
    I'm sure it played a role, but many other things did as well. It's just that the claim that 2 amino acids in a transcription factor can miraculously bring about complex language and comprehension is overly-simplistic. If we were to change those bases in a chimp and allow it to develope, do you think we would have some "super smart talking chimp"? I think no....:rolleyes:
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