Journal of World Prehistory

, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 1–54 | Cite as

Hunting and Scavenging by Early Humans: The State of the Debate

  • Manuel Domínguez-Rodrigo


During the last 25 years, there has been a shift towards the belief that early humans were scavengers instead of hunters. This revisionist interpretation has brought a reconciliation with the Darwinian paradigm of gradual progressive evolution that has traditionally guided (and very often, misled) an important part of anthropological thinking. However, empirical support for the scavenging hypothesis is still lacking. Recent data based on bone surface modifications from archaeological faunas suggest, in contrast, that hominids were primary agents of carcass exploitation. Meat seems to have been an important part of Plio-Pleistocene hominid diets. Passive scavenging scenarios show that this kind of opportunistic strategy cannot afford significant meat yields. Therefore, the hunting hypothesis has not yet been disproved. This makes the hunting-and-scavenging issue more controversial than before, and calls for a revision of the current interpretive frameworks and ideas about early human behavior.

human evolution Plio-Pleistocene East Africa meat-eating hunting scavenging 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Manuel Domínguez-Rodrigo
    • 1
  1. 1.Departamento de Prehistoria, Facultad de Geografia e HistoriaUniversidad ComplutenseMadridSpain

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