Meat-Eating and Human Evolution

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When, why, and how early humans began to eat meat are three of the most fundamental unresolved questions in the study of human origins. Before 2.5 million years ago the presence and importance of meat in the hominid diet is unknown. After stone tools appear in the fossil record it seems clear that meat was eaten in increasing quantities, but whether it was obtained through hunting or scavenging remains a topic of intense debate. This book takes a novel and strongly interdisciplinary approach to the role of meat in the early hominid diet, inviting well-known researchers who study the human fossil record, modern hunter-gatherers, and nonhuman primates to contribute chapters to a volume that integrates these three perspectives. Stanford's research has been on the ecology of hunting by wild chimpanzees. Bunn is an archaeologist who has worked on both the fossil record and modern foraging people. This will be a reconsideration of the role of hunting, scavenging, and the uses of meat in light of recent data and modern evolutionary theory. There is currently no other book, nor has there ever been, that occupies the niche this book will create for itself.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A series of fascinating and scholarly essays, designed for students but accessible to the general reader, explore issues such as whether hunting and meat consumption were the crucible of human intelligence or held society together."—New Scientist

"Stanford and Bunn attacked head-on the problem of where, when, and why meat eating appeared by assembling a group of leading anthropologists, archaeologists, and primatologists to discuss the issue at a Wenner-Gren Foundation-sponsored meeting in 1998. Their edited book is the best summary yet of the evidence for meat consumption by hominids. ... The book ... will appeal to anyone interested in human evolution, especially interdisciplinary studies..."—Choice

Editors Stanford (anthropology, U. of Southern California) and Bunn (anthropology, U. of Wisconsin) present 16 multidisciplinary contributions that address the questions surrounding when, how, and why early humans began to eat meat. The researchers, who study modern hunter-gatherers, nonhuman primates, and the human fossil integrate and discuss their perspectives in order to offer a thorough reconsideration of the role of hunting, scavenging, and the uses of meat in light of recent data and modern evolutionary theory. Topics include meat-eating and the fossil record, living nonhuman analogs for meat-eating, modern human foragers, and theoretical considerations. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195131390
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 6/28/2001
  • Series: Human Evolution Series
  • Pages: 384
  • Lexile: 1470L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

University of Southern California

University of Wisconsin

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Table of Contents

1. Deconstructing the Serengeti
2. Taphonomy of the Swartkrans hominid postcrania and its bearing on issues of meat-eating and fire management
3. Neanderthal hunting and meat-processing in the Near East: evidence from Kebara Cave (Israel)
4. Modeling the edible landscape
5. The dog-eat-dog world of carnivores: a review of past and present carnivore community dynamics
6. Meat and the early human diet: insights from Neotropical primate studies
7. The other faunivory: primate insectivory and early human diet
8. Meat-eating by the fourth African ape
9. Hunting, power scavenging, and butchering
10. Is meat the hunter's property? Big game, ownership, and explanations of hunting and sharing
11. Specialized meat-eating in the Holocene: an archaeological case from the frigid tropics of high altitude Peru
12. Mutualistic Hunting
13. Intra-group resource transfers:comparative evidence, models, and implications for human evolution
14. The evolutionary consequences of increased carnivory in hominids
15. Neonate body size and hominid carnivory

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