Charognage ou chasse ?

Les premiers humains étaient-ils plutôt chasseurs ou plutôt charognards ? La question est très débattue depuis 1981 et la parution du livre de Lewis Binford, Bones : ancient men and modern myths. La thèse de Binford était que la chasse aux grands animaux n’apparaît chez les humains qu’au début de la dernière période glaciaire (vers -100 000 ans), et que jusque-là, les humains étaient surtout des charognards passifs (pour la différence entre charognage passif et actif, voir mon article C’est une bonne situation, ça, charognard ? [Article]). Bien que de nombreuses publications aient depuis suggéré que les humains pratiquaient déjà soit le charognage actif, soit la chasse aux grands animaux, depuis en gros 2 millions d’années, avec une forte présomption sur la chasse après -2 millions d’années et l’apparition d’Homo erectus, Binford est encore convoqué régulièrement contre l’idée d’une humanité chasseuse de longue date.

Synthèses de la controverse

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

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

What where they up against? Lower paleolithic hominin meat acquisition and competition with plio-pleistocene carnivores [PDF]
Starkovich & Conard
In Human behavioural adaptations to interglacial lakeshore environments, 2020

though scientists have documented earlier cases, there seems to be a marked increase in evidence for meat acquisition between 1.8 and 1.5 Ma in both Africa and Eurasia. It is possible that early hominins used a combination of passive and confrontational scavenging to access meat during this period, and we do not exclude the possibility that they also occasionally hunted. The second conclusion is that after 500,000 BP, we see extremely strong evidence for hominin hunting. This also might have occurred before this time, but
there are more examples after this time period over a wide geographic range.
[…] Other recent studies that apply the actualistic observations developed over the last few decades seem to agree with Bunn’s original hypothesis, that hominins started gaining early access to meat between about 2.0 and 1.5 Ma, and it became increasingly
important after this time.

L’article ne porte pas spécialement sur le charognage des premiers humains, mais l’introduction en parle brièvement.

“Neanderthals, vitamin C, and scurvy”[PDF]
John D. Speth
Quaternary international, 2019

Though the scavenging scenario was widely persuasive in both scholarly and popular circles, especially in discussions of early hominins, but also with regard to Neanderthals, it began to crumble in the 1990s. Armed with new ideas and innovative methods of analysis, zooarchaeologists brought forth compelling evidence that hominins across the span of the Pleistocene had early or primary access to carcasses.

Charognage chez les préhumains et tout premiers humains, 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[PDF]
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

Les humains sont à la fois plus chasseurs et plus charognards que les chimpanzés.

From Pan to Man the Hunter: Hunting and Meat Sharing by Chimpanzees, Humans, and Our Common Ancestor[PDF]
Wood & Gilby
In Chimpanzees and Human Evolution, 2018

Humans eat more meat than any other anthropoid primate, attesting to a major shift in the diet of our hominin ancestors. Hunting and meat sharing are central to hypotheses explaining the evolution of several derived human traits, including large brains, long childhoods, small guts and teeth, complex cooperation, the sexual division of labor, cooperative breeding, and the expansion of Homo spp. around the world

When man met meat: meat in human nutrition from ancient times till today [PDF]
Baltic & Boskovic
Procedia food science, 2015

The diet of early hominin species was mainly based on plant (fruits, seeds, grasses, and tubers) supplemented with some animal foods. Results of paleontological and archaeological research supported theory that incorporation of larger amounts of animal proteins started with the earliest Homo. It is supposed that H. habilis obtained meat from scavenging and a smaller part by hunting, while hunting was the predominant method for H. erectus to obtain
animal proteins, and it appears to be a major adaptive shift in human evolution.

How humans evolved large brains: comparative evidence [PDF]
Isler & Van Schaik
Evolutionary anthropology, 2014

In conclusion, the archeological evidence for big-game hunting or scavenging at an early stage in the evolution of the genus Homo points towards a major role of cooperative hunting, which led to male food sharing, as a trigger of the remarkable increase in hominin brain size. Provisioning and babysitting by post-reproductive females and communal nursing among breeding females may have pre- or postdated this change in lifestyle, but from the comparative evidence we suspect that female help on its own would not have allowed for the evolution of the uniquely human combination of traits that arose between 2.5 and 2
million years ago.

The hunting-versus-scavenging debate
Dominguez-Rodrigo et al.
In Deconstructing Olduvai, 2007

However, most Africanists would now agree that some sites
were created by hominids repeatedly carrying carcass parts and stones to particular places on the landscape (Bunn, 1982, 1983a, 1991; Potts, 1982, 1988; Isaac, 1983; Bunn and Kroll, 1986; Blumenschine and Bunn, 1987; Blumenschine, 1988, 1991, 1995; Blumenschine and Marean, 1993; Bunn and Ezzo,1993; Schick and Toth, 1993; Blumenschine et al., 1994; Domínguez-Rodrigo, 1994a;
Oliver, 1994; Selvaggio, 1994; Capaldo, 1995, 1997; Rose and Marshall, 1996; Cavallo, 1998). This consensus stands as one
of the most important achievements of Plio-Pleistocene archaeological taphonomy.

Flaked stones and old bones: Biological and cultural evolution at the dawn of technology [PDF]
Thomas Plummer
American journal of biological anthropology, 2004

By 2.0 Ma, hominin rank within the predatory guild may have been moderately high, as they probably accessed meaty carcasses through hunting and confrontational scavenging, and hominin-carnivore competition appears minimal at some sites

Early Hominid Hunting and Scavenging: A Zooarcheological Review [PDF]
Dominguez-Rodrigo & Pickering
Evolutionary anthropology, 2003

. . . accurate reporting of cutmark location per bone section is vital to
inferences of the timing of hominid access to large mammal carcasses.

Hunting and Scavenging by Early Humans: The State of the Debate [PDF]
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.

Male strategies and Plio-Pleistocene archaeology [PDF]
O’Connell et al. (Hawkes)
Journal of human evolution, 2002

Collectively, Plio-Pleistocene site location and assemblage composition are consistent with the hypothesis that large carcasses were taken not for purposes of provisioning, but in the context of competitive male displays. Even if meat were acquired more reliably than the archaeology indicates, its consumption cannot account for the significant changes in life history now seen to distinguish early humans from ancestral australopiths. The coincidence between the earliest dates for Homo ergaster and an increase in the archaeological visibility of meat eating that many find so provocative instead reflects: (1) changes in the structure of the environment that concentrated scavenging opportunities in space, making evidence of their pursuit more obvious to archaeologists; (2) H. ergaster’s larger body size (itself a consequence of other factors), which improved its ability at interference competition.

Hunting and Scavenging by Plio-Pleistocene Hominids: Nutritional Constraints, Archaeological Patterns, and Behavioural Implications[Texte]
Bunn & Ezzo
Journal of world prehistory, 1993

Were There Elephant Hunters at Torralba? [Abstract]
Lewis Binford
In Evolution of human huning, 1987

In recent years there has been growing skepticism among some students of the pre-Sapiens sapiens hominids that the earlier romantic views, which pictured early man as a mighty hunter, are an accurate construction of the past. In fact, the trend in much recent work has been to modify this view and to see as unwarranted much of the evidence previously cited in support of the “mighty hunter” view of the past. Some have begun the serious investigation of the distinct possibility that early man was more commonly a scavenger of animal carcasses than a successful predator.
[…] Recent analysis (Binford 1985; Binford and Stone 1986) of the
archaeological remains of Europe and Asia seeking to document the successful penetration of Homo erectus, or at least « erectus-grade » hominids, into the temperate zone yields ambiguous results suggesting that hominids were not successful hunters even as late at 200,000 years ago!

Scavenging or Hunting in Early Hominids: Theoretical Framework and Tests [PDF]
Pat Shipman
American anthropologist, 1986

Evidence from Bed I, Olduvai, supports the hypothesis that scavenging, not hunting, was the major meat-procurement strategy of hominids between 2 and 1.7 million years ago.

Carcass consumption sequences and the archaeological distinction of scavenging and hunting [Abstract]
Robert J. Blumenshine
Journal of human evolution, 1986

A preliminary application of the consumption sequence model to the Klasies River Mouth fauna indicates that medium-sized (size 3) and large (size 4) bovids at Klasies were scavenged primarily. Smaller (size 1 and 2) bovids show a distinct pattern, one more consistent with hunting. These results are similar to Binford’s (1984), but for reasons that are argued to have a firmer empirical basis.

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

Man the Scavenger [PDF]
Kathleen D. Gordon
Anthro notes (National museum of natural history newsletter for teachers), 1984

Gordon 1985 Man the scavenger

Man the scavenger; hominids of 2 million years ago ate meat: but were they hunters or scavengers? [Extrait]
Roger Lewin
Science, 1984

Bones : ancient men and modern myths [Recension fr]
Lewis R. Binford
Academic press, 1981

Recherche fondamentale

New site at Olduvai Gorge (AGS, Bed I, 1.84 Mya) widens the range of locations where hominins engaged in butchery [PDF]
Stancampiano et al.
Nature scientific reports, 2022

As hominins at AGS performed similar butchering activities as at other Bed I sites, our results suggest they did not need the shelter of trees and thus occupied a competitive position within the predatory guild.

Comment dire sans le dire que l’on soutient la thèse de l’hominisation par la chasse (pas kleptoparasites = chasseurs ; impacted the evolution of human anatomy and socio-ecology = impactent l’hominisation).

Early Pleistocene faunivorous hominins were not kleptoparasitic, and this impacted the evolution of human anatomy and socio-ecology [Texte]
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.

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 et significative de produits provenant de grands animaux :

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

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

Faurby 2020 visuel extinction rates

Origins of the human predatory pattern: The transition to large-animal exploitation by early hominins [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. This leads to a series of empirical test implications that differ from previous “meat-eating” origins scenarios.

Revisiting the hunting-versus-scavenging debate at FLK Zinl: A GIS spatial analysis of bone surface modifications produced by hominids and carnivores in the FLK 22 assemblage, Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania [Abstract] [PDF]
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 [Abstract]
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 [PDF]
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.

A taste of an elephant: The probable role of elephant meat in Paleolithic diet preferences [Abstract][PDF]
Reshef & 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.

Prey mortality profiles indicate that Early Pleistocene Homo at Olduvai
was an ambush predator [PDF]
Bunn & Gurtov
Quaternary international, 2014

The prime-dominated profile at FLK Zinj is significantly different from profiles formed by the three scavenging methods, which likely indicates hunting by Early Pleistocene Homo.

On meat eating and human evolution: a taphonomic analysis of BK4b (Upper Bed II, Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania), and its bearing on hominin megafaunal consumption [PDF]
Dominguez-Rodrigo et al.
Quaternary international, 2014

In fact, the amount of meat that hominins exploited at BK level 4b surpasses the evidence documented from other early Pleistocene sites, including the more ancient FLK Zinj site (Domínguez-Rodrigo et al., 2010b). This raises the important issue of the role that meat played in the adaptations and ecology of early Pleistocene humans.

Validation of bone surface modification models for inferring fossil hominin and carnivore feeding interactions, with reapplication to FLK 22, Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania [PDF]
Pante et al.
Journal of human evolution, 2012

Together, the bone surface modification data indicate that
hominins typically gained secondary access to partially defleshed carnivore kills, but they also allow for the possibility of some carcasses being processed only by carnivores and only by hominins.

Unraveling hominin behavior at another anthropogenic site from Olduvai Gorge (Tanzania): new archaeological and taphonomic research at BK, Upper Bed II [PDF]
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 [Abstract]
Villa et al.
Quaternary international, 2005

They document butchery of various animals, including elephants. We cannot prove hunting but we can definitely reject Binford’s idea of marginal scavenging of medium-size ungulates from carnivore kills.

Distinguishing Hyena from Hominid Bone Accumulations [Abstract]
Kathryn Cruz-Uribe
Journal of field archeology, 1991

The criteria are as follows: 1) the tendency for carnivore remains to be relatively common in carnivore accumulations, 2) the presence of distinctive hyena damage on bone surfaces (depending on bone surface preservation, such damage may not always be common in hyena assemblages); 3) the tendency for bones from hyena accumulations to have relatively complete shafts but lack epiphyses (i.e., being bone “cylinders” while those from hominid accumulations have broken shafts and intact epiphyses; 4) the tendency for the cranial-postcranial ratio to decrease with ungulate size in hyena accumulations; 5) the tendency for small, hard, bones to be uncommon in hyena accumulations, regardless of state of preservation; and 6) the tendency for age profiles to be attritional in hyena accumulations.

Systematic Butchery by Plio/Pleistocene Hominids at Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania [PDF]
Bunn & Kroll
Current anthropology, 1986

In contrast to other recently published assessments of the FLK Zinjanthropus data, we conclude that (1) ancient hominids had full access to meaty carcasses of many small and large animals prior to any substantial loss of meat or marrow bones through other predator or scavenger feeding; (2) ancient hominids were butchering animal carcasses by an efficient and systematic technique that involved skinning, disarticulation, and defleshing; and (3) the FLK Zinjanthropus site represents a place where the secondary butchering of selected carcass portions and the consumption of substantial quantities of meat and marrow occurred.

Age (mortality) profiles as a means of distinguishing hunted species from scavenged ones in Stone Age archeologicalsites [PDF]
Richard G. Klein
Paleobiology, 1982

At the majority of known sites, active hunting is suggested. In the case of a species characterized by an attritional profile in an archeological site, the proportion of very young individuals in the sample probably provides the best criterion for distinguishing hunting from scavenging. A relatively high proportion of very young
individuals suggests active hunting.

Articles de vulgarisation

Early Humans May Have Scavenged More than They Hunted [Article]
Becky Little
History, 9 janvier 2020

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