Butcher May Be the World's Real Oldest Profession: 3.4-Million-Year-Old Bones Bear Earliest Sign of Carnivory

By Bower, Bruce | Science News, September 11, 2010 | Go to article overview

Butcher May Be the World's Real Oldest Profession: 3.4-Million-Year-Old Bones Bear Earliest Sign of Carnivory


Bower, Bruce, Science News


For Lucy and her comrades, raw meat sliced off animal carcasses was what's for dinner. That's the implication of a study published in the Aug. 12 Nature describing butchery marks on two animal bones from about 3.4 million years ago.

If the new analysis holds up, it provides the oldest evidence so far of stone-tool use and meat eating by members of the human evolutionary family. It's also the first sign of such behavior in hominids preceding the Homo lineage, which includes modern humans, say archaeologist Shannon McPherron of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.

McPherron and his colleagues discovered the fossils in Ethiopia's Dikika area.

Until now, the oldest animal bones bearing stone-tool butchery marks came from another Ethiopian site, Bouri, and were dated to 2.5 million years ago (SN." 4/24/99, p. 262). Researchers found the oldest known stone tools, estimated to be 2.6 million to 2.5 million years old, at nearby Gona, Ethiopia. Those implements were fashioned from select types of rock, suggesting that stone tool-making began much earlier (SN: 4/17/04,p. 254).

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

A long-standing hypothesis holds that meat eating enabled by stone implements rapidly spurred Homo evolution sometime after 2.5 million years ago, especially brain enlargement. "Our finds show that meat eating began much deeper in time and did not lead immediately to the origins of the genus Homo and associated biological changes, particularly larger brains," McPherron says.

The fossils place Australopithecus afarensis--best known for Lucy, a 3.2-million-year-old partial female skeleton excavated in Ethiopia in 1974--as the oldest known carnivorous wielder of stone tools. Lucy's kind lived in East Africa from about 4 million to 3 million years ago.

No evidence of hunting or fire use exists for Lucy's species. Her kind must have competed with other scavengers to salvage meat from animal carcasses, McPherron proposes. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Butcher May Be the World's Real Oldest Profession: 3.4-Million-Year-Old Bones Bear Earliest Sign of Carnivory
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.