Bodies, Brawn, Brains and Noses: Human Ancestors and Human Predation

  • Erik Trinkaus


It has long been assumed that many of the unique biological and behavioral characteristics of modern humans evolved in response to the selective pressures of a predominantly predatory existence. In this scenario, for which Ardrey’s prose provides but one example, the habitual pursuit, capture and dispatch of large vertebrate prey emerged early in hominid evolution. It appeared, perhaps at the time of the evolutionary split of the hominids from the lineage leading to the extant African apes, perhaps at the time of the emergence of the genus Homo. Regardless of the exact time of its emergence, it is frequently assumed or inferred from prehistoric data that relatively early in the existence of the genus Homo, and certainly by the Middle Pleistocene, humans were acting out versions of “Rambo meets the megafauna”. If such a scenario is an accurate reflection of human adaptive evolution, it may be appropriate to view systematic predation an as importantfactor in the evolution of many of the biological features that distinguish us from our primate relatives, and perhaps as having a role in extant human behavior. If not, it may be more appropriate to see predation, to the extent that it occurs among living peoples, as but one aspect of our eclectic means of exploiting the environment.


Modern Human Early Hominid Genus Homo Hominid Evolution Human Ancestor 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Erik Trinkaus
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of New MexicoAlbuquerqueUSA

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