Humans are ‘super-predators’ hardwired by evolution to hunt our food sources into extinction

Credit: Cloudordinary/Wikimedia
Credit: Cloudordinary/Wikimedia

Humans are natural born killers: super-predators designed by evolution to subsist mainly on the meat and fat of large animals, and genetically hardwired to hunt our prey into extinction, says a new study on the eating habits of prehistoric hominins going back 2 million years.

This meta-analysis collated information from some 400 previous studies, conducted over decades by unconnected scientists, and providing biological, genetic, archaeological and molecular data on the diet of our Stone Age ancestors.

The overwhelming evidence gleaned from this research belies the common belief that humans are adaptable omnivores who won at the evolutionary game because of their flexibility and smarts. Instead, it supports a new paradigm of our evolutionthat we are specialized hypercarnivores who diversified our diet only at the tail-end of our evolutionary story, and only because we were forced to do so after killing off our main food source.

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As megafauna declined over the last tens of thousands of years, humans had to use those big brains to find new sources of food. Projectiles, like the bow and arrow, were developed to target smaller prey; foraging for plants increased and, finally, some 12,000 years ago, we started to settle down and domesticate plants, triggering the Neolithic revolution.

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