Were Big-Game Hunters Targeting Fat?

  • John D. Speth
Part of the Interdisciplinary Contributions to Archaeology book series (IDCA)


While our focus in the preceding discussion has been on paleoanthropology’s ­preoccupation with protein, over the past decade or so perspectives in the field have begun to shift, and a growing number of researchers now accept the potential shortcomings of a diet that is heavily based on the fat-poor muscle tissues typical of most African ungulates. As a result, a number of paleoanthropologists are now empha­sizing the importance of the fat that early hominins could glean from the marrow bones and brains of hunted (or scavenged) large game. Thus, while nutritionally motivated meat-eating and big-game hunting still retain their position of prominence in most contemporary evolutionary scenarios, animal-derived fat obtained mostly from marrow and brain is now seen as an essential part of the picture (e.g., Bunn and Ezzo 1993; Cordain et al. 2001; see also arguments and counter-arguments in Blumenschine and Caro 1986:275; Blumenschine and Madrigal 1993; Lupo 1998; Madrigal and Blumenschine 2000).


Alternative Food Large Game Hunting Success Early Hominins Mopane Worm 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Museum of AnthropologyUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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