Since its inception, paleoanthropology has been closely wedded to the idea that big-game hunting by our hominin ancestors arose, first and foremost, as a means for acquiring energy and vital nutrients, especially protein, and that a significant part of the human story can be seen as a record of our ever-increasing prowess and sophistication at taking large prey. The assumption that big-game hunting was ­primarily motivated by nutritional needs has rarely been questioned, though this is perhaps not too surprising. After all, few things in human evolution have seemed so intuitively obvious – meat is a nutrient-rich food, full of protein with the ideal array of essential amino acids, all in the right proportions; and big animals provide meat in large convenient packages, making them, hands down, the preferred target for foragers who have the organizational and technical means to kill them. Add in a “dash” of prestige for good measure, and you have the classic model of Man the Hunter. But what seems so obvious and compelling at face value may be less so when looked at more closely. Thus, the central goal of this book is to explore and ultimately challenge the view that big-game hunting by our hominin ancestors was primarily a nutrition-getting enterprise. Instead, I develop the argument that, for our African forebears, big-game hunting was first and foremost about social, reproductive, and political goals, prestige among them, and that the nutritional component was actually the “dash” that got added in


Lean Meat Large Game Hexaenoic Acid Fallback Food Vital Nutrient 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Museum of AnthropologyUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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