Who Was Eating Our Hominid Ancestors

Many scientists will turn ghastly shades of red when arguing against cre-ationism and for evolution, yet they want to hang onto some special classification for modern humans, early hominids, the great apes, and even primates in general as too smart to be prey animals. Surely, they insist, at least humans (that is, Man the Hunter) had to be in control of their environment—they couldn't have been at the mercy of "dumb animals" that ate them right, left, and center. If we believe in natural selection and the theory of evolution, then we must accept our place in the zoological framework of predators and prey. We have established that predation is a fact of life for primate species. A smallish bipedal hominid was as eminently eatable as any other primate.

Barbara Ehrenreich writes in Blood Rites: Origins and History of the Passions of War:

We were not given dominion over the earth; our forebears earned it in their long, nightmarish struggle against creatures far stronger, swifter, and better armed than themselves, when the terror of being ripped apart and devoured was never farther away than the darkness beyond the campfire's warmth The original trauma—meaning of course, not a single event but a long-standing condition—was the trauma of being hunted by animals, and eaten.51

We had millions of years during which we were vulnerable lip-smacking delicacies. We've had only a flick of an eye during which we have exerted some domination over the predators. While we may no longer have the predators to handle, we are still handling things as if we were prey.

All primates are at risk from predation, as early hominids undoubtedly were. At question is only the degree to which predation influences the life history of the individual or shapes the evolution of a species. How may predation have affected early hominids, themselves vulnerable primates living in open woodland?

Now, we turn to stories told in stone—those creatures who we know were eating our ancient ancestors by the evidence they left millions of years ago. The fossil record has a wealth of stories to tell about saber-toothed cats, bear dogs, giant hyenas, fast-moving crocodiles, and predators who inspired enough fear to shape our evolution.

+1 0

Post a comment