Did Eating Meat Make Us Human?
Fragments of a 1.5-million-year-old skull from a child recently found in Tanzania suggest early hominids weren’t just occasional carnivores but regular meat eaters, researchers say. The finding helps build the case that meat-eating helped the human lineage evolve large brains, scientists added. “I know this will sound awful to vegetarians, but meat made us human,” said researcher Manuel Domínguez-Rodrigo, an archaeologist at Complutense University in Madrid.
Past research suggested prehuman hominids such as australopithecines may have eaten some meat. However, it is the regular consumption of meat that often is thought to have triggered major changes in the human lineage, the genus Homo, with this high-energy food supporting large human brains. Given its importance to human evolution, scientists want to learn when eating flesh became a regular activity. Stone tools dating back about 2.6 million years to Gona in Ethiopia are often considered the earliest signs of the human lineage butchering meat, and contentious evidence suggests butchery may have existed at least 3.4 million years ago.