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View Full Version : I Have An Issue With An Early Hominid Foraging Article.



BigDon
2015-Feb-18, 05:15 AM
This one, to be exact.

http://phys.org/news/2015-02-early-hominids-ate.html

The second paragraph from the bottom.

"And the idea that our more ancient ancestors were great hunters is likely off the mark, as bipedality—at least before the advance of sophisticated cognition and technology—is a mighty poor way to chase game. Even more so than bears and pigs, our mobility is limited. The anthropologist Bruce Latimer has pointed out that the fastest human being on the planet can't catch up to your average rabbit. Another reason to be opportunistic about food."

Ummm, wow.

Excuse me, humans catch harmless food in hunter/agrarian societies by running it down! Endurance, not speed! That's our magic factor.

I've seen teenage boys in Kenya run down "impossible to catch" rabbits in just over half a mile! Three different young men caught over half a dozen rabbits!

One of you Brits *must* of seen this in your travels!

If the authors are going to blow one this easy, I now doubt the rest of their premise!

Good thing I don't go to public lectures and stuff.

Ara Pacis
2015-Feb-18, 05:54 AM
It may depend on what he means by "sophisticated cognition" If a hominid isn't smart enough to plan ahead and run the rabbit to exhaustion, then it wouldn't ever catch it. He's trying to slam Paleo-diet fads with minimal argumentation and data.

Noclevername
2015-Feb-18, 06:20 AM
"And the idea that our more ancient ancestors were great hunters is likely off the mark, as bipedality—at least before the advance of sophisticated cognition and technology—is a mighty poor way to chase game. Even more so than bears and pigs, our mobility is limited. The anthropologist Bruce Latimer has pointed out that the fastest human being on the planet can't catch up to your average rabbit. Another reason to be opportunistic about food."


Right, that's why humans are unable to eat fresh meat, we just couldn't catch it. So our ancestors must have starved during the Ice Age and, logically, therefore we aren't alive now. So since I was never born, that lets me out of cleaning the house!

Jens
2015-Feb-18, 09:05 AM
It may depend on what he means by "sophisticated cognition" If a hominid isn't smart enough to plan ahead and run the rabbit to exhaustion, then it wouldn't ever catch it. He's trying to slam Paleo-diet fads with minimal argumentation and data.

Other animals like wolves and hyenas practice endurance hunting as well, so I don't know how sophisticated you have to be.

trinitree88
2015-Feb-18, 10:25 AM
And, to be an Apache warrior, you had to run down and rope a wild horse. Takes about 20 miles, which is why the Pony Express changes of horse.

malaidas
2015-Feb-18, 10:46 AM
Yes I would invite this propenent to watch Kenyan's running a marathon, their stamina is incredible.

Tog
2015-Feb-18, 10:50 AM
I read a pseudo article on this once that explained why humans are actually one of the scariest lifeforms in the universe. We're like the Terminator. No matter how far something runs, or how long, we'll be there when it wakes up. And we'll have a stick with a rock lashed to the end.

The language made posting it here problematic. I found it, and even the link shortcut would be a language violation. If you want to check it out, do a search for "why humans are scary" and go with the funkyjunk link from Dec 8, 2013. The good bit starts just after the capslock section.

Other parts meant to be funny include:
Humans expose themselves to deadly solar radiation as part of their mating rituals.
Removing a limb will not always kill a human.
Human bites can be fatally infectious, even to other humans.
Humans can project bio-weapons from nearly every orifice.
Humans are adept at turning anything into a weapon (see subject J. Chan)

Tog
2015-Feb-18, 10:51 AM
Yes I would invite this propenent to watch Kenyan's running a marathon, their stamina is incredible.
Or anyone completing a triathlon.

malaidas
2015-Feb-18, 10:59 AM
That brings to mind Jenson Button.

John Mendenhall
2015-Feb-18, 05:24 PM
Right, that's why humans are unable to eat fresh meat, we just couldn't catch it. So our ancestors must have starved during the Ice Age and, logically, therefore we aren't alive now. So since I was never born, that lets me out of cleaning the house!

Are you a sock puppet for my business partner? She is busy not cleaning the shop right now.

Ara Pacis
2015-Feb-18, 06:14 PM
Other animals like wolves and hyenas practice endurance hunting as well, so I don't know how sophisticated you have to be.

But they have natural weapons for defense. Humans tracking prey are also prey and they might need sophisticated cognition not to end up lunch while trying to get lunch.

BigDon
2015-Feb-18, 09:27 PM
Wow, right after I posted this I was hit by the need to go to sleep *now*. I just woke up. Anti-seizure meds will make you do that every three or four days.

Anyway, I just re-read the paragraph in question and two more mistakes spring out at me.

The bear and pigs comment.

Excuse me ma'am, you can find video evidence that grizzlies chase down deer. The ones I saw showed male grizzly bears decapitating deer with single swipes of its paw, while the deer was still fresh, not run to exhaustion! Deer have to run around thicker blackberry brambles while grizzlies can plow straight through them as full speed like they were tall grass. STILL fast enough to catch a deer! In some years grizzlies eat ALL of the moose calves in a particular area. The authors merely never saw a bear exert itself. Quite impressive I must say.

AND the authors never hunted wild pigs if they are using that example as well. A large boar, like the grizzly, isn't stopped by vegetation that isn't at least three inches thick. The whole front of their torso and shoulders are protected by a two and a half inch thick shield of cartilage! Most rifle rounds won't penetrate that! I know men who hunt them, some with spears*! I sure as hell don't, and not because pigs are slow and unsporting. Mere bushes don't even slow them down! Are they thinking about fat pink pigs in a pen? Guess what? They are fast and dangerous too once they get out and shake off civilization!

Is this person getting their info from actual text books or truthy sounding hearsay? He does throw out official sounding word salad but there is huge body of physical evidence to the contrary.

*To get through the cartilage shield these men would use ten foot long sections of one inch diameter lead pipe, the business end cut at a 23 degree angle. When thrown with force by a large man who means it, these lead javelins have awesome penetrating power. The hunters throw them as a flight of three to four BTW. (I know a lot of interesting people, don't I?)

Tog
2015-Feb-18, 09:35 PM
I've actually been on a hunt where a guy got a wild boar with a spear. I was one of the "herders" who got to stand in front of it after he wounded it so it wouldn't go too far. The first time my dad went there they had a whole collection of dogs to do the chasing. three years later, there was only one dog left. The pigs killed the others. Miss Piggy is a lot closer to the truth then most people might think.

There is one method os using a spear that involves getting the pig to chase you. You run with the pointy end of the spear behind you until you come to the berm or rock. You plant the dull end against the wall and raise the point like a pike. Most boar spears have wings on the back of the head to keep the pigs from walking up the shaft to bite you.

JohnD
2015-Feb-19, 03:43 PM
But what if there was a different reason for evolving bipedalism?
Clearly we evolved from an arboreal ancestor, who could reach up and out for the next branch. That was the starting point for going two legged.
Climate change, the loss of great forests, or the opening of veldts, massive grasslands, opened new niches that the new two-legs could exploit.
Must be easier to run-down prey on the savannah than in the rain forest.

JOhn

Noclevername
2015-Feb-19, 11:42 PM
But what if there was a different reason for evolving bipedalism?

There were already plenty of quadrupedal species that run after prey on the plains.

The hypothesis I've heard most suggests that hand evolution happened first. We developed the dexterity to make tools, and from there we had to find ways to carry them, which was easier if you don't have to knuckle walk. So bipedalism was a side effect of sorts. (I may be remembering wrong.)

Ara Pacis
2015-Feb-20, 05:00 AM
What about losing claws for fingernails? They're not so good for climbing, so maybe they had to give it up. Fingernails, however, may be better for removing parasites, which increases the available energy for an organism that might otherwise play host. More energy may result in more exploring and more brain growth or both.

Noclevername
2015-Feb-20, 05:10 AM
What about losing claws for fingernails? They're not so good for climbing, so maybe they had to give it up. Fingernails, however, may be better for removing parasites, which increases the available energy for an organism that might otherwise play host. More energy may result in more exploring and more brain growth or both.

Primates have fingernails, and yet they get around in trees all right.

Ara Pacis
2015-Feb-20, 05:37 AM
Primates have fingernails, and yet they get around in trees all right.
Which primates?

Noclevername
2015-Feb-20, 05:53 AM
Which primates?

Pretty much all of them: https://www.google.com/#q=primate+fingernails

Ara Pacis
2015-Feb-20, 06:12 PM
Do you think it would easier to climb a tree with claws that dig in?

grapes
2015-Feb-20, 06:38 PM
It may depend on what he means by "sophisticated cognition" If a hominid isn't smart enough to plan ahead and run the rabbit to exhaustion, then it wouldn't ever catch it.
It might be argued that it would take sophisticated cognition for a hominid to reason that they would never catch it. Once the chase starts, it wouldn't stop, unless you start in on pessimistic angst. Which must be a higher-order thing, you know.

Noclevername
2015-Feb-20, 06:42 PM
Do you think it would easier to climb a tree with claws that dig in?

Maybe. If you're a cat or a squirrel, who climb by digging into bark, yes. For those with hands, I don't think fingertip claws would help much with gripping branches the way apes do. There are raccoons and koalas, who do have hands with claws, but those may be vestigial and they don't climb the same way as larger primates.

Noclevername
2015-Feb-20, 06:44 PM
Once the chase starts, it wouldn't stop, unless you start in on pessimistic angst. Which must be a higher-order thing, you know.

I'm not so sure. I've seen animals get frustrated at something and give up in disgust, including cats and dogs trying to catch prey.

Trebuchet
2015-Feb-20, 07:36 PM
Do you think it would easier to climb a tree with claws that dig in?

Obviously it depends on whether you have grasping hands. Cats would be useless climbers without sharp claws. Dogs, which have dull claws, don't climb. Evolution very commonly produces different solutions to the same problem.

Noclevername
2015-Feb-20, 11:54 PM
Is this person getting their info from actual text books or truthy sounding hearsay? He does throw out official sounding word salad but there is huge body of physical evidence to the contrary.

Given the number of factual errors in that one brief sound bite you quoted, I'm going with Truthiness.

Hypmotoad
2015-Feb-21, 12:29 AM
I seriously doubt that our ancestors came out of the trees, merely to climb back up at the 1st sight of danger. I have no doubt that THAT happened though as evolution is in baby steps, not conscious decision.

My "belief" is that bipedalism's chief advantage was to extend the gathering range of early hominids and this belief is supported but I have a question to you...

Why are you and others so fixated on rabbits?

I don't know about your ancestors, but mine? Wanted bigger game and spent time developing a method.

Nobody herds a rabbit but my ancestors learned that a herd of bison or maybe mammoths could be scared off of a cliff.

Noclevername
2015-Feb-21, 12:33 AM
I seriously doubt that our ancestors came out of the trees, merely to climb back up at the 1st sight of danger. I have no doubt that THAT happened though as evolution is in baby steps, not conscious decision.

My "belief" is that bipedalism's chief advantage was to extend the gathering range of early hominids and this belief is supported but I have a question to you...

Why are you and others so fixated on rabbits?

I don't know about your ancestors, but mine? Wanted bigger game and spent time developing a method.

Nobody herds a rabbit but my ancestors learned that a herd of bison or maybe mammoths could be scared off of a cliff.

Rabbits are more common on the Serengeti than huge herds, and easier to hunt too. Chasing rabbits likely predates humanity by a few million years, it needs only instincts, but group hunting of dangerous animals requires the planning and interpersonal coordination only a language can provide.

Hypmotoad
2015-Feb-21, 01:07 AM
I agree except for rabbits, but I'm sure they were a part of the diet if a fresh dead one was found and chased off the hunter. Ever hunted a rabbit? Energy spent hunting one does not equal feeding family. Little suckers never cooperate.

Early humans were not even humans but the had the ability to learn.

Yes bigger game is/was more dangerous, but the rewards were immediate.

You are not going to feed a family much less a migratory group on chancy rabbit kills, sorry.

Noclevername
2015-Feb-21, 01:10 AM
I agree except for rabbits, but I'm sure they were a part of the diet if a fresh dead one was found and chased off the hunter. Ever hunted a rabbit? Energy spent hunting one does not equal feeding family. Little suckers never cooperate.

Early humans were not even humans but the had the ability to learn.

Yes bigger game is/was more dangerous, but the rewards were immediate.

You are not going to feed a family much less a migratory group on chancy rabbit kills, sorry.

No, but if you have a throwing rock and no options, you go for the rabbit.

Hypmotoad
2015-Feb-21, 05:54 PM
I feel the need to point out here, that I have read Clan of the Cave Bear and now consider myself an expert in this area.....

Ara Pacis
2015-Feb-21, 05:55 PM
It might be argued that it would take sophisticated cognition for a hominid to reason that they would never catch it. Once the chase starts, it wouldn't stop, unless you start in on pessimistic angst. Which must be a higher-order thing, you know.

If that behavior started before they evolved endurance, they may have been taught to give up after a short run. Also, they may have been taught not to wander too far from the group.

Ara Pacis
2015-Feb-21, 05:57 PM
Maybe. If you're a cat or a squirrel, who climb by digging into bark, yes. For those with hands, I don't think fingertip claws would help much with gripping branches the way apes do. There are raccoons and koalas, who do have hands with claws, but those may be vestigial and they don't climb the same way as larger primates.

Are claws as useful for getting rid of parasites?

Noclevername
2015-Feb-21, 06:04 PM
Are claws as useful for getting rid of parasites?

I don't know. Why the big interest in claws anyway? Weapon envy? ;)

BigDon
2015-Feb-21, 07:23 PM
Most of the clawed animals that you see climbing trees aren't "brachiating", moving from tree to tree by swinging from their arms. I can't think of a single clawed animal that does brachiate. Claws in this case would drive into the palms of your own hands.

Nails protect your fingertips and allow for a more precise grip. Pick a flea without fingernails if you don't believe me. :)

The lines in the palm of your hands keep your skin from bunching up when you grasp a branch or other stick like object.

Handedness is also a precision grip development.

grant hutchison
2015-Feb-22, 12:28 AM
These guys also seem to have missed out on the nomenclature change from hominid to hominin.
Hominin - tribe Hominini: the human lineage back to Sahelanthropus, Orrorin and Ardepithecus; ie the separation from the chimpanzee lineage.
Hominine - subfamily Homininae: humans, chimpanzees and gorillas.
Hominid - family Hominidae: the great apes (which includes humans).
Hominoids - superfamily Hominoidea: the great apes and gibbons.

Grant Hutchison

Tog
2015-Feb-22, 04:12 AM
Most of the clawed animals that you see climbing trees aren't "brachiating", moving from tree to tree by swinging from their arms. I can't think of a single clawed animal that does brachiate. Claws in this case would drive into the palms of your own hands.
Sloth?

Okay it may not be Tarzan-like, but they do move by reaching from one branch to the next, and they've got some serious claws. Specifically, claws adapted for the purpose, which makes them more like hooks. This may make them a third type.

Noclevername
2015-Feb-22, 04:13 AM
Specifically, claws adapted for the purpose, which makes them more like hooks. This may make them a third type.

Pirate sloth! Arrrr.

Seriously, though, I agree, the sloth's climbing method is different from both other clawed animals, and brachiating. And tree snakes also have a way, so four total.

Ara Pacis
2015-Feb-22, 06:14 AM
I don't know. Why the big interest in claws anyway? Weapon envy? ;)

Actually, the parasite part was my main point, but everyone took off on a tangent with the whole climbing thing. My point about parasite load was a pondering about the difference in mental acuity due to better nutrition allowed by feeding more of you and less of worms and lice and such, not to mention fewer side effects from having parasites. Not only would nails help you remove them from your body and the bodies of your tribe/troop, it might allow you to pick them out of your food to some degree. Maybe, just a thought.

BigDon
2015-Feb-22, 11:44 PM
Sloth?

Okay it may not be Tarzan-like, but they do move by reaching from one branch to the next, and they've got some serious claws. Specifically, claws adapted for the purpose, which makes them more like hooks. This may make them a third type.

Did you know that even the marine sloths had those claws? Yep, like crocodiles, sloths had a *very* diverse clade at one time. Now only the oddball specialists remain out of both groups. Megatherium, the gigantic five ton sloth had them. Those claws aren't tree adaption, but a family thing. Like antlers on cervids.

(I, for one, am glad the cursorial crocs are gone. Crocs, often more than twice the size of salties, with long, underbody legs that chased down prey. Like the T-rex, if they weren't extinct before they would be now...)

Noclevername
2015-Feb-23, 12:10 AM
Did you know that even the marine sloths had those claws? Yep, like crocodiles, sloths had a *very* diverse clade at one time. Now only the oddball specialists remain out of both groups. Megatherium, the gigantic five ton sloth had them. Those claws aren't tree adaption, but a family thing. Like antlers on cervids.

Per the WP article, they did serve a purpose on the aquatic sloths; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thalassocnus


They may have used their powerful claws to anchor themselves to the sea floor to facilitate feeding, similar to the behavior of the marine iguana.[2]

2.^ Jump up to: a b c Muizon, C. de; McDonald, H. G.; Salas, R.; Urbina, M. (June 2004). "The evolution of feeding adaptations of the aquatic sloth Thalassocnus". Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology (Society of Vertebrate Paleontology) 24 (2): 398–410

novaderrik
2015-Mar-01, 09:49 AM
maybe people began to chase rabbits to practice for when they are after bigger game? maybe they did it to prove their value to the tribe, to show off their mad huntin' skillz, yo? maybe they did it to impress potential mates? maybe they did it just for fun?

or maybe they just wanted an appetizer to hold them over until the wild boar got done cooking- like prehistoric chicken wings..

Noclevername
2015-Mar-01, 10:44 AM
I'm not sure humans ever chased rabbits, as there are easier ways to catch rabbits than by chasing them.

BigDon
2015-Mar-01, 08:20 PM
I'm not sure humans ever chased rabbits, as there are easier ways to catch rabbits than by chasing them.

Didn't read the whole thread, did you?

:)

Noclevername
2015-Mar-02, 12:17 AM
Didn't read the whole thread, did you?

:)

Do'h I say sir, and Do'h again!

malaidas
2015-Mar-02, 12:26 AM
Ok just been watching the Simpsons and can't resist

Doh the stuff that buys me beer
Ray the man who sells me beer
me the guy who drinks the beer
far a long way to my beer
so I think I'll have a beer
tea no thanks I'm drinking beer
la la la la la la beer
which will bring me back to d'oh

DonM435
2015-Mar-02, 12:32 AM
Bringing together Simpson and rabbit pursuit ...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ZNEHzPGuD0

malaidas
2015-Mar-02, 12:46 AM
Bringing together Simpson and rabbit pursuit ...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ZNEHzPGuD0

:D

Hypmotoad
2015-Mar-02, 07:41 PM
Ok just been watching the Simpsons and can't resist

Doh the stuff that buys me beer
Ray the man who sells me beer
me the guy who drinks the beer
far a long way to my beer
so I think I'll have a beer
tea no thanks I'm drinking beer
la la la la la la beer
which will bring me back to d'oh

LMAO hilarious!