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Evolving Humans on the Menu 307

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the tastes-like-chicken dept.
Ant writes "BBC News is reporting that a popular view of our ancient ancestors as hunters who conquered all in their way could be incorrect. This was according to researchers who told a major United States (U.S.) science conference. They argued that early humans were on the menu for predatory beasts. From the article: 'This may have driven humans to evolve increased levels of co-operation, according to their theory. Despite humankind's considerable capacity for war and violence, we/humans are highly sociable animals, according to anthropologists.'"
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Evolving Humans on the Menu

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  • by forgotten_my_nick (802929) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @04:01AM (#14766039)
    Thats how I read it. So what we basically need is some huge interdimenionsal squid to be teleported into a large populated city, killing nearly everyone and the whole world will be united (at least until people read Rorschach's Journal).

  • by kassemi (872456) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @04:02AM (#14766041) Homepage

    we humans are highly sociable animals, according to anthropologists.

    Anthropologists don't hang out with the /. crowd, I guess...

  • by biocute (936687) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @04:03AM (#14766044) Homepage
  • Don't mind the fact that mass extinction of megafauna occurred simultaneously with the introduction of humans into any geographic area... No, magical fairies terrorized prehistoric humans and ate their flesh.

    The argument simply holds no water. Sure, sometimes man bites dog, but usually it's the other way around.
    • Re:Well, obviously (Score:5, Insightful)

      by alicenextdoor (910558) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @05:43AM (#14766277)
      These guys are talking about human evolution way before the megafauna extinctions. In the article thet mention Australopithecus afarensis, which is 3.2 million years old [archaeologyinfo.com]; a ccording to the Australian Museum's Tim Flannery [amonline.net.au] "the Megafauna became extinct up to 50,000 years ago in Australia and New Guinea, around 10,900 years ago in North (and presumably South) America, about 1500 years ago in Madagascar, and between 900 and 600 years ago in New Zealand. This pattern closely follows the current chronology of human expansion around the world."

      Maybe it's because we developed those social skills early on that we became so dangerous more recently?

    • by core plexus (599119) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @06:26AM (#14766358) Homepage
      I just read an article stating that humans had nothing to do woth the extinction of megafauna, and in fact it was due to rapid climate change [suvalleynews.com].

      " The Pleistocene Holocene transition took place about 11,000 years ago and caused the extinction of a large number of animal species including mammoths, mastodons and ground sloths. The Holocene looked very different from the Pleistocene."

      • It is very likely that climate change played a major role in that particular episode, however there are many episodes of mass extinctions unrelated to climate.
      • by katorga (623930) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @12:16PM (#14768259)
        Bingo. 50K years ago the planet went into a rapid and violent cooling phase. This resulted in ice as far down as the middle tier states of the US, and down to Southern Europe. It makes sense that huge displacements in animal and plant life would occur.

        The last ice age melted off, in less than 2000 years, around 10,000 years ago. The planet has been in a warming phase since that time.

        That is the primary reason I think "global warming" is a totally natural change. The average temperature of the planet over millions and millions of years is much higher than it has been throughout our recorded history (5000 years, give or take). Modern humans are an ice age species trying to adapt to the end of the ice age.

        • The last ice age melted off, in less than 2000 years, around 10,000 years ago. The planet has been in a warming phase since that time.

          That is the primary reason I think "global warming" is a totally natural change.


          Newspeak?

          The global warming you refer to was about 10,000 years ago. And was of course not man amde, if you mean that with natural.

          Since then the over all climate only changed marginaly which includes having two minor cold periods.

          The usual usage of the term "global warming" however reffers to the
    • by lorelorn (869271) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @07:00AM (#14766446)
      Never before have I come across a user ID so fitting. That truly was a bad analogy, guy.
    • "The argument simply holds no water."

      The argument is not that modern man was under pressure from predators and thus cooperated, the argument is that predation drove the evolutionary development of a level of cooperation unique to modern humans.

      It was not until we became "modern" in the sense that we could create artefacts [wikipedia.org] that we started sytematically wiping out the competition. Chimps today are smart enough to "gang-up" and use sticks and rocks to scare leopards away, yet chimps are still on the leap
  • Mmm, Good (Score:4, Funny)

    by wildsurf (535389) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @04:07AM (#14766055) Homepage
    So I'm not the only one who thinks supermodels are tasty.
    • by Duhavid (677874)
      Send a couple dozen over, I will sample them
      extensively, and let you know how they are.
      • > Send a couple dozen over, I will sample them extensively, and let you know how they are.

        We're out of supermodels, so I'm sending you a dozen unemployed rednecks instead.

        Let us know how they are!
        • by Duhavid (677874)
          First, thanks for making them all female.

          Second, they are great! Cooking, cleaning,
          they know where the local Walmart is already.

          We wont talk about the other attributes here
          in an open forum. ;-)
    • So I'm not the only one who thinks supermodels are tasty.

      They're low fat, but you eat more of them...

      Hufu The great taste of friends...
    • Re:Mmm, Good (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Scarletdown (886459)
      So I'm not the only one who thinks supermodels are tasty.


      Blecch. Supermodels are all skin and bone. Now figure skaters, on the other hand... ;)

    • So I'm not the only one who thinks supermodels are tasty.

      Odd - the ones I eat always seem to have a slick texture and an unpleasant papery aftertaste.

    • Nope, you're not the only one. For example, these [mukiskitchen.com] people seem to agree with you.

      (link NSFW)
  • by drgonzo59 (747139) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @04:10AM (#14766062)
    So if a lion entered a restaurant say about 10,000 years ago he would find menu entries like:
    "Roasted Human Family...29.95"
    "Baby Humans with Cashews and Potatoes...24.50"
    "Human a-la-carte - create your own dish out of fresh human body parts and side dishes ... 35.99"
    • Fast food was called serve yourself back then.
    • Fortunately, human protein tends to come with pointy and/or stout sticks, thrown rocks, and other things making it too dangerous a diet for predators.
    • The Japanese restaurant had several human sashimi selections -- most were quite good, though the supermodel toro was considered stringy and overpriced. For those on a budget there's also Raw Men noodles and another noodle soup with freshly killed human called "U-done." The Indian restaurant had a spicy cheese dish made with unionized actors called the SAG paneer. They also had a really tasty stockbroker vindaloo. Mexican tacos de cabeza del hombre was all the rage among early predators. The Greek place
    • “Baby Humans with Cashews and Potatoes...24.50”

      That's if Dick Cheney walks into the restaurant.

  • Well, duh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Deathbane27 (884594) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @04:11AM (#14766067)
    Was there anyone who actually thought that the human line(s) immediately dominated the hunting scene the instant they became geneticly distinct from the other primates?
    • by SetupWeasel (54062)
      Humans aren't primates you silly Satan worshipper.

      Sarcasm aside, what makes you think ignorance is a binary function?
    • Hell, I'd say humans are still on the menu for some predators; people are still attacked somehwat regularly by tigers in parts of Asia.

      As to the other issues in the article, I think it's fairly obvious that cooperation among humans is one of the big reasons for our dominance on this planet. The division of labor and the use of tools are the secrets of our success.

  • Pretty Obvious (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bombula (670389) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @04:11AM (#14766068)
    It would be clearer to say that humans were not always apex predators. Many predators are themselves the prey of other creatures, and it is not exactly revolutionary to suggest that this may have been the case for humans and our proto-human ancestors for a long time.
    • Re:Pretty Obvious (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @04:24AM (#14766098) Homepage Journal
      Exactly. For example, small cats are efficient predators but are also hunted by coyotes.

      I also question the blanket assumption that humans are unique in our cooperativeness. Baboons collaborate against leopards, and macaques and bonobos form tight social groups.

      Further, it's not clear how valuable hunting was. Contemporary hunter-gatherers get more calories, more regularly, from gathering than from hunting. Raising the question, were the first weapons primarily defensive?
      • Re:Pretty Obvious (Score:5, Informative)

        by tmossman (901205) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @05:43AM (#14766278)
        Further, it's not clear how valuable hunting was. Contemporary hunter-gatherers get more calories, more regularly, from gathering than from hunting. Raising the question, were the first weapons primarily defensive?

        I don't have an answer for you regarding the weapons, but hunting is considered rather instrumental in our evolution as a species. Access to greater amounts of animal fats in our diet allowed us to deveolp the much larger cranial capacities than those from whom we evolved, helping put the 'sapiens' in homo sapiens, so to speak. From this paper: [uark.edu]
        More animal fat in the diet meant not only additional energy, but also a source of ready-formed long chain PUFAs, including AA, DTA(docosatetraenoic acid (DTA, C22:4, w-3), and DHA. These three fatty acids together make up over 90% of the long chain PUFA (i.e. the structurally significant and biochemically active fat) found in the brain gray matter of all mammalian species. (Sinclair, 1975)
        • Re:Pretty Obvious (Score:5, Interesting)

          by maxpublic (450413) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @08:12AM (#14766622) Homepage
          but hunting is considered rather instrumental in our evolution as a species.

          Analysis of prehistoric living sites (including prehistoric shit, a rather invaluable source of information concerning what an animal eats) pretty much conclusively shows that the average human diet was 85%-90% fruits, vegetables, and roots. Of the other 10%-15%, a large chunk of that protein came from insects. The 'mighty hunter' scenario has been consistently debunked for decades, yet Joe Public is still enamored of the idea that our ancestors ran about the plains, taking on mastodons with fire-hardened sticks.

          Fact is, most of our protein - what little of it there was - came from insects, grubs, eggs, lizards and frogs, scavenged kills from other predators, and in coastal areas creatures like turtles, crabs, and occasionally fish. When humans did hunt larger creatures they sure as hell didn't take on large animals with spears; they used brush traps, cliff runs, and uncontrolled large-scale burns to kill *entire herds*. Lacking any sort of proper storage technology and rarely knowing how to smoke/salt meat for long-term use, these occasional whole-sale slaughters generally wasted 99% of the animals they killed.

          Contrary to the popular myth which still makes the rounds, humans sucked at hunting. They were, however, premiere gatherers and used their large brains to keep track of what was good to eat, and when, and where it could be found. Their social organization also made it difficult for other, more efficient predators to take them down, since attacking one human generally meant taking on the entire tribe, a dangerous proposition when easier prey was usually abundant. While humans were lousy hunters, a tribe of 20 or 30 armed with pointy sticks was more than sufficient for convincing even a pride of lions that perhaps the herd of deer in the next valley over was a better bet.

          The only branch of humanity that was any good at all at hunting was the much-maligned Neanderthal. In complete opposition to our own branch of the species, Neanderthals got 90% of their calories from meat and only 10% from vegetables, fruits or roots. Neanderthals were excellent hunters, although it was a full-time and dangerous occupation as we can see from just how often they were injured (taking a look at an adult Neanderthals bones and the numerous breaks they suffered shows you just how bloody tough they were). But then Neanderthals, unlike h. sapiens, were much better adadpted to hunting; they were far, far stronger than any human being (the average female could easily kill Arnie in his prime with just one well-aimed punch), had much thicker bones, and apparently healed more quickly than our kind did (or does). They could take and shake off punishment that would instantly put any one of us in the grave.

          Although it's certainly more heroic to think that cooperative hunting had something to do with our brain development, it's far more likely that it's a combination of ever-more-efficient gathering techniques and cooperative *defense* against real predators that did the trick. Smarter, more social human beings were better at both of these activities than dumber, asocial ones. And in a world full of predators looking for an easy kill, humans - with fragile bodies, the inability to outrun just about anything on four legs, and no natural weapons - were hard-pressed to come up with some other survival strategy to keep from becoming lunch. It turned out that brains and sociability were adequate substitutes.

          Max
          • by ScentCone (795499) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @08:38AM (#14766710)
            Damn, that was... well, lucid. Waking up to a rational, articulate, informed slashdot comment is just completely unsettling in a bracing sort of way. Thanks! Must... get... bad... coffee... to... counter... effects.
          • Re:Pretty Obvious (Score:3, Informative)

            by jc42 (318812)
            The only branch of humanity that was any good at all at hunting was the much-maligned Neanderthal.

            It should be emphasized that this maligning was primarily the "popular" culture. Paleontologists have long viewed the Neanderthals as a subspecies that was superbly adapted to their niche, a major hunter in the difficult environment of ice-age Europe. The "cave man" image basically came from a European culture that really wanted to view itself as the most advanced and civilized on the planet. 18th- and 19th-
          • Re:Pretty Obvious (Score:4, Insightful)

            by VAXcat (674775) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @10:41AM (#14767350)
            Interesting...but, what about all of the evolutionary adaptations in humans that are ascribed to their evolution as cursorial hunters, who could run down their prey? The human ability to continue rinning for long periods of time that are not present in other mammals? For example, the ability to cool ourselves by sweating? I studied biology a long time ago, and back then, these adaptations were supposed to have allowed early man to chase much faster animals until they were exhausted. Has this theory been discredited?
            • Re:Pretty Obvious (Score:3, Interesting)

              by rgoldste (213339)
              I haven't heard of this explanation, and I took several biology and anthropology courses in college.

              The problem with this explanation, and with the "man the hunter" mythology in general, is that it's a "just so" story. It may make intuitive sense, but the data just isn't there to support such a hypothesis. To put another way, I can come up with an equally plausible account of the facts/adaptations you mentioned, and in the end, there's no way to choose between competing explanations. One major problem with
    • The menu (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Savage-Rabbit (308260) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @05:06AM (#14766207)
      It would be clearer to say that humans were not always apex predators. Many predators are themselves the prey of other creatures, and it is not exactly revolutionary to suggest that this may have been the case for humans and our proto-human ancestors for a long time.

      May have been the case??? Make no mistake about it there are still critters on this earth that look at a human and think "mmmmmm... FOOD!" Well knonw examples are polarbears tigers and bullsharks. All of these animals regularly hunt humans for food. When I got my weapons license the instructor in the class on hunting ethics started out by telling us that there are three valid reasons to kill an animal:

      1) The animal is sick so you kill it to prevent the disease from spreading.
      2) You want to eat the animal.
      3) The animal wants to eat you.

      That list may seem a bit funny at first glance but basically those rules are as true today as they were during the stoneage.
      • An ethical menu (Score:2, Insightful)

        by simul (113898) *
        You might try distinguishing between "Want to eat" and "Need to eat" in your ethics. If I "Want" to eat a blue whale, say to see how it tastes, that doesn't necessarily make it a sound and ethical decision to go off killing such a large and rare beast.

        Now, If I'm living in Norway and it's 200 years ago, and it's but cold and me and me bros go out on a big ass boat to go kill one and use every ounce of blubber, meat, to improve our lives..... then I'd say my desire was part of a deeper "Need", and that it's
        • You might try distinguishing between "Want to eat" and "Need to eat" in your ethics. If I "Want" to eat a blue whale, say to see how it tastes, that doesn't necessarily make it a sound and ethical decision to go off killing such a large and rare beast.

          I believe that hunters purposely avoid making that distinction because they enjoy hunting for sport, but they want to distinguish themselves from the non-politically-correct hunters of yesteryear who hunted for the sake of hunting and then wasted the kill. T

    • Indeed. This is REALLY old news in the anthro field. Or rather an old theory, which has been spreading rapidly. More recently with sites like Zhoukoudien, China (where H. habilis was snacked on by giant hyenas, biting through the faceplate to get at nutritious brains), we're realizing that even early Homos were on the menu (article mentions Australopithecus, not its progeny H. habilis).

      As my phys anthro professor put it:
      1. Lions
      2. Hyenas
      3. Humans and carrion birds

      (that refers to H. habilis and before,

      • Zhoukoudien is an H. erectus site, my bad. Habilis was snacked on occasionally throughout the world, but Zhoukoudien is the only known site where H. erectus was snacked on. It's one of those toss up sites, an equal number of anthropologists support it as disregard it.

        Sorry, it's been a long day. :)

  • Or... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kra Z Joe (803519) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @04:12AM (#14766069)
    This concept:

    "... also discovered that his subjects seemed to have enhanced memory for those people that did not reciprocate in the experiment."

    Could explain this:

    "... humankind's considerable capacity for war and violence..."
    • This concept ... Could explain this:
      "... humankind's considerable capacity for war and violence..."


      I think this goes back way before advanced primate-ness, and into deeper mammal-ness. All you have to do is note a domestic dog's (or his ancestor, the wolf's) incredible ability to instantly identify threatening unknowns or familiar rivals by any number of signals/patterns (appearance, body language, etc). And, if you've ever seen dogs actually form groups and pick fights strictly for social reasons, you
  • Funeral customs (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jcr (53032) <jcr@nOSpam.mac.com> on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @04:12AM (#14766071) Journal
    Someone mentioned to me several years ago, that nearly all human societies have customs for disposing of dead bodies that would tend to prevent predators from knowing that humans were something to eat. Burying someone six feet deep, for example, makes it rather unlikely that a lion or a bear would smell the body and dig it up.

    -jcr
    • Re:Funeral customs (Score:2, Insightful)

      by microarray (950769)
      Maybe, or perhaps the custom arose out of a necessity to prevent the spread of infectious diseases (where they were the cause of death) or other harmful organisms that consume the body. Or maybe both are a factor. Perhaps dead bodies just smell bad :)
      • Re:Funeral customs (Score:5, Insightful)

        by drgonzo59 (747139) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @04:36AM (#14766121)
        Or how about just the psychological trauma to see your grandma or parents rotting in the ditch close to your hut? Not very pleasant I suppose. "Oops, checked on paw-paw this morning -- looks like the maggots finallay got to him... bless his heart!"
        • Re: Funeral customs (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Black Parrot (19622)
          > Or how about just the psychological trauma to see your grandma or parents rotting in the ditch close to your hut? Not very pleasant I suppose. "Oops, checked on paw-paw this morning -- looks like the maggots finallay got to him... bless his heart!"

          That's why you're supposed to eat his brain, shrink his head, and hang it from the rear-view mirror in your car.
    • Re:Funeral customs (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      An interesting thought, but in that case funerals must have evolved after humans stopped being a prey-species. If the all the predators were eating humans on a routinely basis then there would be no need to hide the fact that we are fairly tasty.

      By the way the dead of the parsees (Zoroasters followers), were traditionally been given to vultures.

    • Elephants have been observed burying elephant bones. It's about "protection of loved ones" more than anything else. Predators will not hesitate to chase anything that runs away, including humans. Here in Australia there is a saying, "Don't worry about the sharks, the fucking crocs ate them".
    • Lions, as individuals don't need to eat people to learn that we're tasty. It's in our smell and the way we move.

      There are much simpler reasons that people are buried deep underground across cultures, including feelings of kinship with the deceased, and the desire to not smell or look at rotting corpses. It's a mistake to make a jump to assuming that it's some kind of clever trick to confuse lions.
  • Huh (Score:2, Funny)

    by pmc257cool (956059)
    *Fire in the hole!* die you son of a... *GO GO GO!* got your camping n00b ass.... *Storm the Front!*.. huh? what? oh, I beg to differ
  • "Despite humankind's considerable capacity for war and violence, we/humans are highly sociable animals, according to anthropologists"

    war and violence are contradictory to being sociable? war and violence are social activities. nonsocial animals would have nothing to do with one another, including violence. there is love, hate, and then not caring. not caring is considerably different than hating

    reminds me of an old saying:

    "Diplomacy is a continuation of war by other means." Zhou En Lai

    in other words, being social is simply a way of resolving disputes without drawing blood... althought there is also "social intercourse," which is human social behavior as courtship. so at its psychological root, all human social effort is really just violent or sexual in nature
    • all human social effort is really just violent or sexual in nature

      Why "or"?

    • Zhou En Lai? What kind of commie propaganda have you been reading? That's a quote from the Prussian military philosopher Carl von Clausewitz.

      Read On War [clausewitz.com], by the great man himself.

      • Actually, Clauswitz defined WAR as being a continuation of Policy .. which was a pretty radical concept at the time, since the Europe before the Napoleonic period may have defined war as merely an instrument to set the stage for yet another royal wedding.

        Zhou Enlai comes along about 100 years later and makes a quote that Diplomacy is a continuation of War.

        subtle difference, but you are half right at least - Clauswitz certainly deserves credit for the foundation of Zhou Enlai's quote.
      • Zhou En Lai was deliberately misquoting Clausewitz. Read the quote again and you'll see that Zhou inverted it.
    • "there is love, hate, and then not caring. not caring is considerably different than hating"

      Or put another way, indifference is the opposite to both love and hate.
  • Not suprising... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Cyno01 (573917) <Cyno01@hotmail.com> on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @04:41AM (#14766133) Homepage
    Stuff was bigger back then. We were smaller, and weve always been naked squishy monkeys. Something interesting along these lines, the universal dragon myth, in which similar creatures (dragons) exist independently in different cultures (asian, european, even native american), is thought to stem from an amalgamation of early human predators left over in some sort of instinctive memory. Lions' jaws and claws, body of a snake, wings of an eagle (yes, eagles were big enough to prey on humans), and fire.
    • dragon myth ... exist[s] independently in different cultures (asian, european, even native american)

      You forgot about the Strongbadia [homestarrunner.com] culture!
  • early humans? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by opencity (582224) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @04:42AM (#14766137) Homepage
    Will Durant (I think) suggested civilization began when, instead of eating our vanquished enemy, we enslaved him. AANAAnthropologist but what are the preditors back before agriculture? My guess, the big cats. My other guess, tribalism was probably based on banding together for protection against the really big hungry guy - who was a fellow early human.
  • Old news (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Epeeist (2682) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @04:46AM (#14766146) Homepage
    > humans are highly sociable animals, according to anthropologists.

    Aristotle said this in another form (Man is by nature a political animal) in about 300 BC.
  • War and violence (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CaptainCarrot (84625) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @05:21AM (#14766236)
    "Despite"? Try fighting a war someday without a high degree of organization and cooperation. War requires society, it does not occur in spite of it.
  • from TFA and TFSummary:
    'This may have driven humans to evolve increased levels of co-operation, according to their theory.'
    Statements like this bother me...a lot.

    Organisms cannot be driven to evolve. They can either have the trait that is advantageous for survival or they can die. Humans had the trait, probably for adaptation (perhaps through creative thinking) and developed sociability as a means of survival. They were not driven to evolve sociability and cooperation. They were driven to use these traits that they already had.

    In other words, they were driven to adapt.

    [semi-offtopic rant]It is statements like these that make some people think that intelligent design is a plausible scientific theory. These kinds of statements give people the idea that evolution has a goal and because of this it must have been designed. Evolution is a combination of natural selection, genetic (in)stability and mutations, environmental factors, and random chance (like natural disasters) all acting together to dictate that the organisms with the best traits for a given environment will have the best chance of survival and pass those traits on to their offspring. It is a number of simple rules and factors working together to make intricate (and beautiful, if I may say so) complexity. No designers needed. Sorry for the off-topic rant.[/semi-offtopic rant]

    • Evolution is a combination of natural selection, genetic (in)stability and mutations, environmental factors, and random chance (like natural disasters) all acting together to dictate that the organisms with the best traits for a given environment will have the best chance of survival and pass those traits on to their offspring.

      Once humans developed language you also get evolution operating through mechanisms other than genetics. Since accumulated knowlage can be relevent to survival. Including knowlage of
    • by Jim_Callahan (831353) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @06:28AM (#14766367)
      Firstly, evolution is not entirely encompassed by natural selection. The mechanisms outside of natural selection do not require that things die. Take, for instance, any form of acquired behavior.

      Secondly, even in the case of natural selection, death is by no means required. The reproductive rate of the advantaged group just has to be (at least) marginally higher than that of the disadvantaged species.

      Thirdly, organisms can't be driven to evolve. Populations, however, can, which is, you know, what people are talking about when they say "humans" in this context. The only reason you have a problem the statement is because you're purposefully misinterpreting the statement (for the express purpose of having something to be pissed about, I might add).

      Normally I don't feed the trolls, but I was bored today.
    • It is statements like these that make some people think that intelligent design is a plausible scientific theory.

      It's statements like that which make some people think Darwin's evolutionary theory and intelligent design are the only two plausible explanations for the population of living creatures on the planet.

      If someone wants to believe that some sentient being guided the course of existence, you're not going to convince them otherwise; that line of thought is based on an entirely different set of pr

  • The news? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tchernobog (752560) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @05:56AM (#14766304)
    Not to be harsh, but this theory is around since at least middle '80s. They taught it to me at primary school, here in Italy.
  • Honestly, has anything really changed? I bet ya that if we dropped slashdotters in the African wilderness, they would still be on the menus of some of natures meanest beasts... add to that the fact that many here devolved and lost their sociable characteristics and BAM!.. bottom of the food chain.
  • We are a community animal. We really can do more working together than sepearately. I think that radical individualism (libertarians, ayn randies) as a broad philosophy is a recent aberration. If we were really clever we'd resist those who try to divide and conquer. Now if I can just get the idiots on the other side to see it my way we'll all be much better off united under my enlightened ruleleadership.
  • Isn't this bleeding obvious?

    I mean, evolution is based on adaptation to environment. If early humans were sufficiently well-adapted to their environment that they dominated it, what forces would be acting on them to propel evolution?
  • Plenty of other animals do this as well. At its most basic level a shoal of fish is merely a group of prey banding together so that they are less likely to be eaten, similar to herds of gazelle on land. In neither case does this lead to mor3 advanced social systems. More likely is that we had the intelligence to see the results of such co-operation more quickly and improve upon this. You see high levels of co-operation among elephants and dolphins for example, even to the extent of routinely raising each o
  • old news... (Score:3, Informative)

    by acroyear (5882) <jws-slashdot@javaclientcookbook.net> on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @08:13AM (#14766625) Homepage Journal
    The making of on the DVD Walking with [Prehistoric] Beasts for the BBC showed the evidence that Austrolopithacines were hunted by dinofelis and other cats (sabretooth and not) 3.4 million years ago. The markings on the human skulls, when put next to the cat skulls, are unmistakably teeth.
    • IIRC correctly, the #1 predator of homo sapiens the last million years or so the leopard. Almost as big and strong as a lion, but with better night vision and likes to hunt in underbrush. Effective along or in small groups.

      I saw a National Geographic episode recently where two leopards were hunting together. Gazelles (impalas?) have very accute hearing...even in the pitch dark it was very difficult to sneak up on a dozing pack. So what one leopard does is stay with the pack, the other leopard travels abo
  • by steveoc (2661) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @08:17AM (#14766639)
    So let me get this logic straight ...

    - Human likes to hang out on his own (assumption)
    - Lion eats solitary human, easy prey.
    - Human invents cooperation, and evolves to become social, making it harder for Lion to pick off human

    Just wonderful.

    I thought everyone already knew that ants, termites, bees and wasps 'invented' cooperative societies and specialisation of roles millions of years before we ever came along.

    AFAIK, there is no evidence to suggest that ants were ever anything but a social colony from the beginning of their existence. But then, its all speculation really - did ants start off as a social colony, or did they evolve to form them ? Coming up with a test case to positively falsify either claim is impossible.

    So the published ramblings of a group of anthropologists isnt exactly what you would call 'good science'.

    Its equally possible (and equally un-provable), that a couple of solitary pre-humans sat down in the bush one day and observed a column of ants together .. looked at each other and said ....

    'Hey dude, you know if we got together like that, maybe one day WE could form a city-state, farm crops, knock up some pyramids, write a bunch of laws, build ships to cross the oceans, and run out cable broadband to every home, what do you reckon ?'

    To which the other replied :

    'yeah cool, I reckon its worth a shot. Besides, this whole tear-assing around the scrub like a bad muthafucker is getting a bit old. I wanna find me a good reliable pre-human woman, settle down and you know - just enjoy some quality time together, raise some kids, and maybe even build a white picket fence out of these dry twigs. Its not much I know, but hell, Ill do my best for her.'

    A tear welling in his pre-human eye. And so the other extended his hand to shake it

    'You know dude, your a good man .. whats your name bro ?'

    And so it was that pre-humans evolved an opposing thumb so that they could shake hands, form lasting friendships, and go on to build cooperative civilisations that rival those of the ants.

    Maybe we did 'evolve' socialisation out a fear of being eaten by Lions .. but I much prefer my theory instead.
    • HA!

      "Maybe we did 'evolve' socialisation out a fear of being eaten by Lions .. but I much prefer my theory instead."

      Or, and this is just *my theory*, but maybe a hazy flying creature with purple eyes dropped man -- socialized man mind you -- out of a hole in his pocket and said unto himself "i am the prime mover. everything is as I make it". He looked down, saw them and was happy.

      Or, perhaps some other fairy tale.

      Or, perhaps, solitary apes evolved into humans who socalized. Or basically, somewhere we find
  • vocal chords... if the theory of evolution is correct, vocal chords could have been the key to our survival (if we were once filet minon)
  • What? Are you some kind of commie? Everyone knows that the only road to success is through competition! War! Metaphorically or literally, War is the only method of relation. Cooperation? Are you kidding? Cooperation is for self-defeated fools and hippies!

    Cooperation is down right Un'Merican!
  • Songlines and dogs (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Flying pig (925874) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @09:39AM (#14767005)
    In Chatwin's Songlines, he argues for the sabre tooth being the human predator and that a lot of our culture and mythology derive from this.

    There is also some evidence, I believe, that far from being repurposed wolves dogs are the descendants of a scavenging ancestor. By disposing of rubbish, dogs helped the evolution of stable human settlements - because without dogs, primitive man had to move on before the surroundings got too smelly. At a later stage dogs were tamed, and all of a sudden the human race had two forms of projected power to use against predators - ballistic weapons, and dogs. The rest is history (or herstory if you believe that women create civilisations and men try to destroy them)

  • This is totally obvious. Of course we weren't hugely bad-ass solo hunters! We lack the natural tools for it, and weapons are an outgrowth of a society that has enough surplus food to allow time to develop technology. Therefore, we'd managed to carve ourselves out a niche in the food chain before we started developing the advantages that allowed us to dominate.

    And even today individuals are occasionally killed by wild animal attacks. Why the hell would they imagine it was any different in the past?

Top Ten Things Overheard At The ANSI C Draft Committee Meetings: (1) Gee, I wish we hadn't backed down on 'noalias'.

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