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

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

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

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
Michael C. Pante &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 *
Henry 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.
Meat-Eating Among the Earliest Humans
Briana Pobiner, 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 meat of the matter: an evolutionary perspective on human carnivory
Manuel Dominguez-Rodrigo, Travis Rayn 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

The plant component of an Acheulian diet at Gesher Benot Ya‘aqov, Israel
Melamed et al.
PNAS, 2016
Diet is central for understanding hominin evolution, adaptation, and environmental exploitation, but Paleolithic plant remains are scarce. A unique macrobotanical assemblage of 55 food plant taxa from the Acheulian site of Gesher Benot Ya‘aqov, Israel includes seeds, fruits, nuts, vegetables, and plants producing underground storage organs. The food plant remains were part of a diet that also included aquatic and terrestrial fauna. This diverse assemblage, 780,000 y old, reflects a varied plant diet, staple plant foods, environmental knowledge, seasonality, and the use of fire in food processing.

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.
Sahnouni et al, 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
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 Oldowanhominins acquired and processed numerous, relatively complete, small ungulate carcasses. Moreover, they had at leastoccasional access to the fleshed remains of larger, wildebeest-sized anima

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
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
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.
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
Mark F. Teaford & Peter S. 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.

Charognage et chasse

Early Pleistocene faunivorous hominins were not kleptoparasitic, and this impacted the evolution of human anatomy and socio-ecology
Dominguez-Rodrigo et al.
Nature scientific reports, 2021

we analyze cut mark anatomical distribution patterns in the anthropogenic site of FLK Zinj and in two of the most recently discovered and best preserved early Pleistocene anthropogenic sites in Africa: DS and PTK, (Bed I, Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania) (Fig. 1), dated to 1.84 Ma […]
The results of the present study show that by the early Pleistocene, hominins were already inserted in the carnivore guild. Their regular access to fleshed carcasses invalidates hypotheses positing the kleptoparasitic role of these ancestors. Like any other predator, hominins would have exploited available opportunities of carcasses found at other carnivore kills51; however, we argue that such strategies constituted a minor element in their carcass-acquisition behaviors.

The zooarchaeology and paleoecology of early hominin scavenging
Briana L. Pobiner
Evolutionary anthropology, 2020

Questions about the timing, frequency, resource yield, and behavioral and biologicalimplications of large animal carcass acquisition by early hominins have been a part ofthehunting-scavenging debatefor decades. This article presents a brief outline ofthis debate, reviews the zooarchaeological and modern ecological evidence for a pos-sible scavenging niche among the earliest animal tissue-consuming hominins (pre-2.0 Ma), revisits some of the questions that this debate has generated, and outlinessome ways to explore answers to those questions with evidence from the archaeo-logical record.

Une intense compétition entre hominines et prédateurs aurait commencé très tôt dans l’histoire de l’évolution humaine, au point d’accélérer la disparition de bon nombre d’espèces de prédateurs. Une nette accélération se serait produite vers 2 millions d’années, convergeant avec l’ensemble des autres indices pour définir cette période comme le début d’une consommation régulière de produits provenant de grands animaux :

Brain expansion in early hominins predicts carnivores extinctions in East Africa
Faurby et al.
Ecology letters, 2020

Our results suggest that substantial anthropogenic influence on biodiversity started millions of years earlier than currently assumed.

Charognage, puis finalement chasse directe durant une période d’environ 2 millions d’années.

A brief history of meat in the human diet and current health implications
Neil J. Mann
Meat science, 2018

This ASF intake marked a transition from a largely forest dwelling frugivorous lifestyle to a more open rangeland existence and resulted in numerous adaptations, including a rapidly increasing brain size and altered gut structure.
[…] The subsequent dietary change this demanded initially involved scavenging the remains of herbivore carcases, with an eventual shift to direct hunting over a time period of approximately 2 million years. This was accompanied by subsequent physiological and metabolic adaptations that culminated in modern humans

Revisiting the hunting-versus-scavenging debate at FLK Zinj: A GIS spatial analysis of bone surface modifications produced by hominins and carnivores in the FLK 22assemblage, Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania
Jennifer A. Parkinson.
Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 2018
This analysis suggests hominins had early access to fleshed carcasses at FLK Zinj, particularly of smaller prey, which they may have acquired through hunting. Damage patterns on larger carcasses are more difficult to interpret, but are consistent with early access through hunting or aggressive scavenging. A reanalysis of carnivore tooth mark frequencies on the FLK Zinj bovid fauna also supports an early access scenario.

The social organization of Homo ergaster : Inferences from anti-predator responses in extant primates
Erik P. Willems, Carel P. van Schaik
Journal of human evolution, 2017

we analyze reports on primate counter-attacks against known predators and  find these are indeed disproportionately frequent in terrestrial taxa living in open habitats, sometimes even involving the use of tentative weapons. If we subsequently only examine the taxa that are particularly adept at this (chimpanzees and baboons), we find an effect of habitat type on group size : groups on the savanna are larger than those in the forest. We thus infer that H. ergaster lived in very large groups with many males that jointly defended the group against carnivorans, and argue that these counter-attacks will readily have turned into confrontational scavenging and cooperative hunting, allowing Homo to move into the niche of social carnivore.

Turtles and Tortoises of the World During the Rise and Global Spread of Humanity: First Checklist and Review of Extinct Pleistocene and Holocene Chelonians
Rhodin & al., 2015

Studies by Auffenberg (1981), based on archaeological excavations by the Leakeys, demonstrated that the Early Pleistocene Australopithecus, and other early hominins, Homo habilis and probably H. erectus, gathered large numbers of chelonians.

When man met meat: meat in human nutrition from ancient times till today
There is evidence that meat consumption has had an influence on cranial-dental and intestinal morphologic changes, human erect posture, reproductive characteristics, longer lifespan, and maybe most importantly, on brain and intellectual development

A taste of an elephant: The probable role of elephant meat in Paleolithic diet preferences
Hagar Reshef & Ran Barkai
Quaternary International, 2015

We suggest that early hominins might have had taste preferences and that elephant meat played a significant role in their diet, when available. Furthermore, the archaeological evidence coupled with ethnographic observations and the study of frozen mammoths suggest that juvenile elephants were specifically a delicacy and were hunted intentionally since their specific meat and fat composition seems to have had a better taste and a better nutritional value.

On meat eating and human evolution: a taphonomic analysis of BK4b (Upper Bed II, Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania), and its bearing on hominin megafaunal consumption.
Domínguez-Rodrigo et al.
Quaternary  International, 2014
This evidence supports that meat consumption was tightly linked to the physiology that shaped the evolution of our genus. Hunting was an integral part of the adaptive behavior of H. erectus although megafaunal exploitation may have included more opportunistic behaviors.

Unraveling hominin behavior at another anthropogenic site from Olduvai Gorge (Tanzania): new archaeological and taphonomic research at BK, Upper Bed II
Journal of human evolution, 2009.

Highly cut-marked long limb shafts, especially those of upper limb bones, suggest that hominins at BK were actively engaged in acquiring small and middle-sized animals using strategies other than passive scavenging. The exploitation of large-sized game (Pelorovis) by Lower Pleistocene hominins, as suggested by previous researchers, is supported by the present study.

New data from Ambrona: closing the hunting versus scavenging debate
Villa et al.
Quaternary international, 2005

Hunting and Scavenging by Early Humans: The State of the Debate
Manuel Dominguez-Rodrigo
Journal of world prehistory, 2002

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.

Hunting and Scavenging by Plio-Pleistocene Hominids: Nutritional Constraints, Archaeological Patterns, and Behavioural Implications
Henry T. Bunn, Joseph A. Ezzo, 1993.

Human ancestors : changing views of their behavior
Lewis R. Binford
Journal of anthropological archeology, 1985

Outils et armes

Origins of the Human Predatory Pattern
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
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
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.

Méthodes de recherche

Functional morphology, biomechanics and the retrodiction of early hominin diets
Frederick E. Grine & David J 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
Katherine D. Zink, Daniel E. 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
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
Karen D. Lupo, Dave N. Schmitt
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
Ken Sayers &Owen 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
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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