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Human Evolution

, Volume 17, Issue 3–4, pp 199–206 | Cite as

The human adaptations to meat eating: a reappraisal

  • Hladik C. M. 
  • Pasquet P. 
Article

Abstract

In this paper we discuss the hypothesis, proposed by some authors, that man is a habitual meat-eater. Gut measurements of primate species do not support the contention that human digestive tract is specialized for meat-eating, especially when taking into account allometric factors and their variations between folivores, frugivores and meat-eaters. The dietary status of the human species is that of an unspecialised frugivore, having a flexible diet that includes seeds and meat (omnivorous diet). Throughout the various time periods, our human ancestors could have mostly consumed either vegetable, or large amounts of animal matter (with fat and/or carbohydrates as a supplement), depending on the availability and nutrient content of food resources. Some formerly adaptive traits (e.g. the “thrifty genotype”) could have resulted from selective pressure during transitory variations of feeding behaviour linked to environmental constraints existing in the past.

Key words

meat eating hominids gut allometry thrifty genotype 

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Copyright information

© International Institute for the Study of Man 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hladik C. M. 
    • 1
  • Pasquet P. 
    • 2
  1. 1.Laboratoire d’EcologieÉco-Anthropologie, CNRS (FRE 2323) and Museum National d’Histoire NaturelleBrunoy(France)
  2. 2.Dynamique de l’évolution humaine CNRS (UPR 2147) 44France

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