Alimentation des premiers humains (jusqu’à Erectus)

1. Aliments consommés
2. Charognage et chasse
3. Outils et armes utilisés
4. Méthodes de recherche

Aliments consommés

Dietary strategies of Pleistocene Pongo sp. and Homo erectus on Java (Indonesia) [Abstract]
Kubat et al.
Nature Ecology and Evolution, 2023

In contrast, omnivorous H. erectus shows low and less accentuated intra-annual Sr/Ca variability compared to Pongo sp., with δ13C data of one individual indicating a dietary shift from C4 to a mix of C3 and C4 plants. Our data suggest that H. erectus on Java was maximizing the resources available in more open mosaic habitats and was less dependent on variations in seasonal resource availability.

No sustained increase in zooarchaeological evidence for carnivory after the appearance of Homo erectus [Abstract]
Barr et al.
PNAS, 2022

We show that several proxies for the prevalence of hominin carnivory are all strongly related to how well the fossil record has been sampled, which constrains the zooarchaeological visibility of hominin carnivory. When correcting for sampling effort, there is no sustained increase in the amount of evidence for hominin carnivory between 2.6 and 1.2 Ma.

Remarques : article modérément médiatisé (beaucoup moins que Haas et al., 2020,  ou Macintosh et al., 2017).
Les conclusions mises en avant ne reflètent pas l’article.
1. Notamment, absence de preuve n’est pas preuve de l’absence. Ici, on n’a simplement pas la preuve que l’on ait une augmentation régulière de la consommation de viande sur la période. Cela ne prouve pas qu’elle n’ait pas eu lieu dans la lignée humaine.
2. Une phrase de l’article oubliée rappelle que si le résultat était établi (pas d’augmentation régulière sur la période), cela pourrait venir aussi bien d’une surestimation antérieure de la période Erectus que d’une sous-estimation de la période Habilis.
3. L’étude a pour avantage de mener un travail énorme de statistique, mais la qualité des données en entrée est problématique. Elle se base sur le nombre de marques sur les os, mais celui-ci n’est pas strictement proportionnel à la quantité de viande qu’on en retire. Des méthodes plus complexes analysant la distribution des marques sur les os sont bien plus efficaces à déterminer ce qui a été prélevé sur l’os. Voir par exemple Dominguez-Rodrigo et al., 2021.
4. Le résultat n’est pas replacé dans le contexte de l’ensemble des indices sur la question, contrairement à, encore, Dominguez-Rodrigo et al., 2021.
5. La méthodologie utilisée, pas plus qu’aucune autre, ne permet d’évaluer le pourcentage de viande dans l’alimentation des populations étudiées.

Isotopic evidence for the timing of the dietary shift toward C4 foods in eastern African Paranthropus [PDF]
Wynn et al.
PNAS, 2020

The results show that the most important shift toward C4 foods
occurred at 2.37 Ma, within the temporal range of the earliest
known member of the genus, Paranthropus aethiopicus, and that
this shift was not unique to Paranthropus but occurred in all hom-
inins from this fossil sequence. This uptake of C4 foods by hominins
occurred during a period marked by an overall trend toward in-
creased C4 grazing by cooccurring mammalian taxa from the same

Bone marrow storage and delayed consumption at Middle Pleistocene Qesem Cave, Israel (420 to 200 ka) [Texte] [PDF]
Blasco et al.
Science advances, 2019

Bone marrow and grease constitute an important source of nutrition and have attracted the attention of human groups since prehistoric times. Marrow consumption has been linked to immediate consumption following the procurement and removal of soft tissues. Here, we present the earliest evidence for storage and delayed consumption of bone marrow at Qesem Cave, Israel (~420 to 200 ka). This is the earliest evidence of such previously unidentified behavior, and it offers insights into the socio-economy of the human groups who lived at Qesem and may mark a threshold to new modes of Palaeolithic human adaptation.

Origins of the Human Predatory Pattern: The Transition to Large-Animal Exploitation by Early Hominins [Abstract]

We propose that the regular exploitation of large-animal resources—the “human predatory pattern”—began with an emphasis on percussion-based scavenging of inside-bone nutrients, independent of the emergence of flaked stone tool use. This leads to a series of empirical test implications that differ from previous “meat-eating” origins scenarios.

La consommation régulière de grands mammifères coïncide en gros avec Homo habilis.

The carnivorous feeding behavior of early Homo at HWK EE, Bed II, Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania [PDF]
Pante et al.
Journal of Human Evolution, 2018

The regular consumption of large mammal carcasses as evidenced by butchery marks on fossils recovered from Early Stone Age archaeological sites roughly coincides with the appearance of Homo habilis.

Les traces sur les os indiquent que vers -1,84 millions d’années, les hominines avaient un accès direct aux proies (soit par chasse directe soit par charognage actif dès capture de la proie par le prédateur), et le profil d’âge des proies indique une chasse directe. On parle ici de grandes proies.

How Meat Made us Human: Archaeological Evidence of the Diet and Foraging Capabilities of Early Pleistocene Homo in East Africa [Abstract]
Bunn et al.
Oxford handbook online, 2017

The proportions of different skeletal elements, particularly once-meaty limb bones, and the abundance of stone-tool butchery damage on those bones, indicate that by 1.84 Ma at the FLK Zinj site at Olduvai Gorge, hominins had first access to prey carcasses. Moreover, mortality (age at death) profiles suggest active hunting by early Homo rather than secondary access to scavenged carcasses. Evidently, early Homo was repeatedly transporting meaty portions of large carcasses for delayed consumption and probable food sharing—behaviours characteristic of humans, not apes.

The meat of the matter: an evolutionary perspective on human carnivory [Abstract]
Dominguez-Rodrigo & Pickering
Archeological research in Africa, 2017

A review of the early Pleistocene African record demonstrates that taphonomic evidence of a hominin predatory/meat-eating behavioral module clarifies ∼2.0 Mya, a critical time period characterised by traces of advanced carcass foraging

Meat-Eating Among the Earliest Humans [Texte]
Briana Pobiner
American Scientist, 2017

Without the abundance of calories afforded by meat-eating, they maintain, the human brain simply could not have evolved to its current form.

The plant component of an Acheulian diet at Gesher Benot Ya‘aqov, Israel [Texte]
Melamed et al.
PNAS, 2016

Our knowledge of the diet of early hominins derives mainly from animal skeletal remains found in archaeological sites, leading to a bias toward a protein-based diet. We report on the earliest known archive of food plants found in the superimposed Acheulian sites excavated at Gesher Benot Ya‘aqov, Israel. These remains, some 780,000 y old, comprise 55 taxa, including nuts, fruits, seeds, vegetables, and plants producing underground storage organs. They reflect a varied plant diet, staple plant foods, seasonality, and hominins’ environmental knowledge and use of fire in food processing.

Bone taphonomy of the Schöningen “Spear Horizon South” and its implications for site formation and hominin meat provisioning [Texte]
Starkovitch & Conard
Journal of human evolution, 2015

Taken together, the faunal evidence from the Spear Horizon South indicates that late Lower Paleolithic hominins using the site understood the behaviors of different prey species, hunted socially to take down large game, and successfully competed with large carnivores on the landscape for primary access to ungulate remains.

Stable isotope-based diet reconstructions of Turkana Basin hominins [PDF]
Cerling et al.
PNAS, 2013

The earliest hominin species in the Turkana Basin, Aus-
tralopithecus anamensis, derived nearly all of its diet from C3
resources. Subsequently, by ca. 3.3 Ma, the later Kenyanthropus
platyops had a very wide dietary rangefrom virtually a purely C3
resource-based diet to one dominated by C4 resources. By ca. 2 Ma,
hominins in the Turkana Basin had split into two distinct groups:
specimens attributable to the genus Homo provide evidence for
a diet with a ca. 65/35 ratio of C3- to C4-based resources, whereas
P. boisei had a higher fraction of C4-based diet (ca. 25/75 ratio).
Homo sp. increased the fraction of C4-based resources in the diet
through ca. 1.5 Ma, whereas P. boisei maintained its high depen-
dency on C4-derived resources.

The first evidence of cut marks and usewear traces from the Plio-Pleistocene locality  of El-Kherba  (Ain  Hanech), Algeria: implications for early hominin subsistence activities circa 1.8 Ma. [Abstract]
Sahnouni et al
Journal of human evolution, 2013

The faunal assemblage is dominated by large and medium-sized animals (mainly adults), especially equids, which are represented by at least 11 individuals. The mammalian archaeofauna preserves numerous cut-marked and hammerstone-percussed bones. Made of primarily limestone and flint, the stone assemblage consists of core forms, débitage, and retouched pieces. Evidence of usewear traces is found on several of the flint artifacts, indicating meat processing by early hominins. Overall, our subsistence analysis indicates that early hominins were largely responsible for bone modification at the site, which is also corroborated by other relevant taphonomic evidence. Moreover, at 1.78 Ma, the cutmarked bones recovered from El-Kherba represent the earliest known evidence for ancestral hominin butchery activities and large animal foraging capabilities in northern Africa.

Earliest Archaeological Evidence of Persistent Hominin Carnivory [PDF]
Ferraro et al.
PlosOne, 2013

The assemblages date to,2.0 Ma,pre-dating all previously published archaeofaunas of appreciable size. At Kanjera, there is clear evidence that Oldowan hominins acquired and processed numerous, relatively complete, small ungulate carcasses. Moreover, they had at least occasional access to the fleshed remains of larger, wildebeest-sized anima

Earliest Porotic Hyperostosis on a 1.5-Million-Year-Old Hominin, Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania [Texte]
Dominguez-Rodrigo et al.
Plos One, 2012

Meat-eating was an important factor affecting early hominin brain expansion, social organization and geographic movement. Stone tool butchery marks on ungulate fossils in several African archaeological assemblages demonstrate a significant level of carnivory by Pleistocene hominins, but the discovery at Olduvai Gorge of a child’s pathological cranial fragments indicates that some hominins probably experienced scarcity of animal foods during various stages of their life histories.

Man the Fat Hunter: The Demise of Homo erectus and the Emergence of a New Hominin Lineage in the Middle Pleistocene (ca. 400 kyr) Levant [Texte]
Miki Ben-Dor, Avi Gopher, Israel Hershkovitz, Ran Barkai, 2011.

The worldwide association of H. erectus with elephants is well documented and so is the preference of humans for fat as a source of energy. We show that rather than a matter of preference, H. erectus in the Levant was dependent on both elephants and fat for his survival.

Early hominin diet included diverse terrestrial and aquatic animals 1.95 Ma in East Turkana, Kenya [PDF]
David R. Braun et al., 2010

This site provides the oldest in situ evidence that hominins, predating Homo erectus, enjoyed access to carcasses of terrestrial and aquatic animals that they butchered in a well-watered habitat. It also provides the earliest definitive evidence of the incorporation into the hominin diet of various aquatic animals including turtles, crocodiles, and fish, which are rich sources of specific nutrients needed in human brain growth. The evidence here shows that these critical brain-growth compounds were part of the diets of hominins before the appearance of Homo ergaster/erectus and could have played an important role in the evolution of larger brains in the early history of our lineage.

C’est avant l’apparition du genre Homo, mais c’est important :

Evidence for stone-tool-assisted consumption of animal tissues before 3.39 million years ago at Dikika, Ethiopia [PDF]
McPherron et al.
Nature, 2010

Avec cette belle illustration :

Docosahexaenoic Acid and Shore-Based Diets in Hominin Encephalization: A Rebuttal [PDF]
Cunnane et al.
American journal of human biology, 2007

While tool making for fishing is, indeed, relatively recent, evidence that much earlier hominins fished without using tools has in fact been presented (Stewart, 1994; Stewart, 2006). Three lines of evidence at Early Pleistocene archaeological sites suggest abundant and intentional hominin fish intake: (i) very biased skeletal representations, (ii) presence of only one taxon (Clarias), and (iii) at an Olduvai Gorge site, presence of identifiable cutmarks on Clarias cranial bones. These sites also contain early tools and other faunal remains. Archaeological sites in middle – late Pleistocene Egypt contain mounds of tens of thousands of Clarias bones procured by hominins when the fish were spawning. Clarias is a common, slow-moving, shallow water catfish that could easily caught by hand a million years ago, much as is still done today in these areas. Accounts also exist of baboons, hyenas and other carnivores catching and eating Clarias while on spawning runs. Not only are Clarias sufficiently abundant and accessible in freshwater lakes and rivers but with about 230 mg of DHA per 100 g tissue, they are an excellent source of pre-formed DHA. Hence, contrary to Carlson and Kingston (2007), there is good fossil evidence that some early hominins fished frequently and by hand, thereby gaining access to DHA and other brain-selective nutrients long before extensive encephalization or development of tools to help in this process.

Diet and the evolution of the earliest human ancestors
Teaford & Ungar
PNAS, 2000.

This conclusion runs counter to (i) recent isotope work suggesting that the australopithecines did in fact consume significant amounts of meat (7) and (ii) nutritional work suggesting that meat may have provided critical nutrients for both young and oldhominids (77–79). There would seem to be three different ways to reconcile these perspectives. First, the present study has reviewed only craniodental features related to diet. If the australopithecines used other means for ingesting and processing meat (e.g., tools), they might have been able to process meat more efficiently than the craniodental evidence suggests (80, 81). Second, the heavy C3 signature found in A. africanus(7) may reflect the consumption of underground storage organs of C3 plants rather than meat (82). Third, the functional analyses of the teeth assume that all meat has the same degree of toughness. This may not be the case. Studies of the physical properties of food have thus far focused on plant remains, with only brief mention of the toughness of materials like skin (40, 46). Variations in toughness between animal tissues mightwell be due to variations in the arrangement and density of collagen matrix. Furthermore, the physical effects of decomposition might render meat less tough and more readily processed by hominids. If this is so, it could be further evidence in support of scavenging as part of the early hominid way of life.

Environment and Behavior of 2.5-Million-Year-Old Bouri Hominids [PDF]
De Heinzelin et al.
Science, 1999

Spatially associated zooarchaeological remains show that hominids acquired meat and marrow by 2.5 million years ago and that they are the near contemporary of Oldowan artifacts at nearby Gona. The combined evidence suggests that behavioral changes associated with lithic technology and enhanced carnivory may have been coincident with the emergence of the Homo clade from Australopithecus afarensis in eastern Africa.

Early Hominid Hunting and Scavenging The Role of Meat as an Energy Source [Abstract]
John D. Speth
Journal of human evolution, 1989

This paper argues that meat may actually have been a relatively marginal source of sustenance for early hominids, because physiological limits to total protein intake (plant and animal), scarcity of fat in most African ungulates, comparatively high levels of protein in many plant foods, and the inability of early hominids to extract lipids from the cancellous tissue of bones, acted together to maintain their total meat intakes at modest levels, particularly during seasonal or inter-annual periods of resource stress.

Charognage ou chasse

[Déplacé ici]

Outils et armes

Origins of the Human Predatory Pattern [PDF]
Thompson et al.
Current anthropology, 2019

We argue that concepts of meat-eating and tool use are too loosely defined: outside-bone nutrients (e.g., meat) and inside-bone nutrients (e.g., marrow and brains) have different macronutrient characteristics (protein vs. fat), mechanical requirements for access (cutting vs. percussion), search, handling and competitive costs, encounter rates, and net returns. Thus, they would have demanded distinct technological and behavioral solutions. We propose that the regular exploitation of large-animal resources—the “human predatory pattern”—began with an emphasis on percussion based scavenging of inside-bone nutrients, independent of the emergence of flaked stone tool use.

3.3-million-year-old stone tools from Lomekwi 3, West Turkana, Kenya [PDF]
Harmand et al.
Nature, 2015

We report the discovery of Lomekwi 3, a 3.3-million-year-old archaeological site where in situ stone artefacts occur in spatiotemporal association with Pliocene hominin fossils in a wooded palaeoenvironment.

Concernant les capacités de chasse, il y a 500 000 ans, des humains fabriquaient déjà probablement des armes composites.

Evidence for Early Hafted Hunting Technology [Abstract]
Wilkins et al.
Science, 2012

Multiple lines of evidence indicate that ~500,000-year-old stone points from the archaeological site of Kathu Pan 1 (KP1), South Africa, functioned as spear tips. […] Thus, early humans were manufacturing hafted multicomponent tools ~200,000 years earlier than previously thought. Hafting, which allowed projectile points to be attached to a staff, was an important technological advance that greatly increased the functionality of weapons of early humans. This technology was used by both Neandertals and early Homo sapiens and is readily seen after about 200,000 to 300,000 years ago, but whether it was used by a common ancestor or was separately acquired by each species is unclear. Supporting use by a common ancestor, Wilkins et al. (p. 942) report that stone points in a site in central South Africa were hafted to form spears around 500,000 years ago. The evidence includes damaged edges consistent with this use and marks at the base that are suggestive of hafting.

Méthodes de recherche

Functional morphology, biomechanics and the retrodiction of early hominin diets [Texte]
Grine & Daegling.
Comptes rendus palevol, 2017

This rationale has been widely applied to the interpretation of morphological complexes in the paleontological record for which no strict extant analogues exist. In particular, biomechanical models have been used to infer the dietary habits of extinct hominin taxa from aspects of craniodental morphology. Many of these models are hampered by missing data and loosely justified assumptions. Craniodental morphologies may indicate more about what an extinct species was capable of processing intra-orally – and probably more about its phylogenetic history – than the constitution of its diet.

Impact of meat and Lower Palaeolithic food processing techniques on chewing in humans [PDF]
Zink & Lieberman
Nature, 2016

Although cooking has important benefits, it appears that selection for smaller masticatory features in Homo would have been initially made possible by the combination of using stone tools and eating meat.

Pleistocene footprints show intensive use of lake margin habitats by Homo erectus groups [Texte]
Roach et al.
Nature scientific reports, 2016

The southeastern orientation of the hominin tracks suggests that they generally moved along the lakeshore. This movement pattern, which follows the land-water ecotone, is an effective way of foraging for nutrient rich plants and animals. It also mirrors movement patterns of modern day carnivores, which show non-random attraction to and movement along, fixed waterways. These carnivore land use patterns likely reflect high prey density around arid landscape water sources, as well as the scavenging of food that washes ashore, both strategies that reduce search and stalking effort.

When bigger is not better: The economics of hunting megafauna and its implications for Plio-Pleistocene hunter-gatherers [PDF]
Lupo & Schmitt
Journal of anthropological archaeology, 2016

These data challenge the idea that prey body size can be used as a proxy for profitability and rank in zooarchaeological analyses. Prey profitability, especially for large-sized and costly taxa, is strongly influenced by prey characteristics relative to existing dispatch technology and the range of nonconsumptive benefits associated with hunting certain megafauna. Nonconsumptive rewards associated with these opportunities can only be gained by certain individuals and are not broadly available to everyone. We suggest that the idea of ‘big game’ specialization needs to be reframed in archaeology.

Blood, bulbs, and bunodonts : on evolutionary ecology and the diets of ardipithecus, australopithecus, and early Homo [Abstract]
Sayers & Lovejoy
Quarterly review of biology, 2014

The morphology and likely cognitive abilities of Ardipithecus, Australopithecus, and early Homo suggest that while hunting and scavenging occurred, their profitability generally would have been considerably lower than in extant primates and/or modern human hunter-gatherers. On the other hand, early hominid diet modelers should not focus solely on plant foods, as this overlooks standard functional interpretations of the early hominid dentition, their remarkable demographic success, and the wide range of available food types within their likely day ranges. Any dietary model focusing too narrowly on any one food type or foraging strategy must be viewed with caution. We argue that early hominid diet can best be elucidated by consideration of their entire habitat-specific resource base, and by quantifying the potential profitability and abundance of likely available foods

Dental topography and diets of Australopithecus Afarensis and early Homo [Extraits]
Peter Ungar
Journal of Human Evolution, 2004

Early Homo shows steeper slopes and more relief than chimpanzees, whereas A. afarensis shows less slope and relief than any of the other groups. The differences between the two hominin taxa are on the same order as those between the extant apes, suggesting similar degrees of difference in diet. Because these chimpanzees and gorillas differ mostly in fallback foods where they are sympatric, results suggest that the early hominins may likewise have differed mostly in fallback foods, with A. afarensis emphasizing harder, more brittle foods, and early Homo relying on tougher, more elastic foods.

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