From “Disappearance of the Elephant Caused Rise of Modern Humans: Dietary Change Led to Modern Humans in Middle East 400,000 Years Ago” (ScienceDaily, Dec. 12, 2011), we learn:
The elephant, a huge package of food that is easy to hunt, disappeared from the Middle East 400,000 years ago — an event that must have imposed considerable nutritional stress on Homo erectus.
There are so many holes in this story, it should be a fish net. There is considerable evidence of varied human diet from great antiquity – which we should expect, given that people can starve waiting for big game – and the longer they starve, the less capable they are.
Unlike other primates, humans’ ability to extract energy from plant fiber and convert protein to energy is limited. So in the absence of fire for cooking, the Homo erectus diet could only consist of a finite amount of plant and protein and would have needed to be supplemented by animal fat. For this reason, elephants were the ultimate prize in hunting — slower than other sources of prey and large enough to feed groups, the giant animals had an ideal fat-to-protein ratio that remained constant regardless of the season. In short, says Ben-Dor, they were the ideal food package for Homo erectus.
Except for one thing: The carcass goes bad after a few days. Maybe the theory is that homo erectus didn’t notice. Even the flies and worms didn’t bother him. Or, even though he couldn’t cook, he knew how to salt and dry pemmican?
When elephants began to die out, Homo erectus “needed to hunt many smaller, more evasive animals. Energy requirements increased, but with plant and protein intake limited, the source had to come from fat. He had to become calculated about hunting,” Ben-Dor says, noting that this change is evident in the physical appearance of modern humans, lighter than Homo erectus and with larger brains.
One thing their implausible thesis doesn’t lack is confidence:
Not only do their findings on elephants and the Homo erectus diet give a long-awaited explanation for the evolution of modern humans, but they also call what scientists know about the “birth-place” of modern man into question.
Incidentally, if these people think elephants are dead easy to kill, they need to read George Orwell’s “Shooting an Elephant.”
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