Home > Critical Thinking, Musings, Reason, Secular Religions, Skepticism > More About the Nutitional Requirements of Hominids

More About the Nutitional Requirements of Hominids

Based on a couple of comments to my last post on the topic, it appears that some of you might not have grasped all of the issues behind the original question. So let me clarify the question.

Humans require food for two reasons: Calories and Nutrition. It is possible to get a decent amount of calories from a large range of foods. For example you can get all of your daily requirement of calories from cooked pasta with marinara sauce, however this diet will not provide you many of the essential nutrients required for growth, repair and optimal function. Furthermore a person who is outdoors and active requires larger amounts of both calories and nutrients.

Today we can get both calories and nutrients by going to a supermarket, a restaurant or ordering takeout. Canning, packaging and refrigeration also make it very easy to get seconds and thirds of what we want.

Now put yourself in an age before metal weapons, agriculture, technology and relative peace and ask yourself-

How could hominids, some of whom were supposedly dumber than us, be able to eat so well and survive for hundreds of generations without tools and methods even the most primitive modern humans take for granted.

Remember that hominids were not big cats or bears. While physically stronger, they were not that different from us and were certainly not adapted to kill animals as obligate carnivores or bears can do. The very fact that they can be found in the fossil records for tens of thousands of years implies that they were quite successful at whatever they were doing to survive.

While palaeontologists unearth the tools of these creatures and describe them in great detail, how many wonder if they could live and prosper under the conditions these hominids supposedly existed? Could you do that with the same tools and social organization under conditions of relative prey abundance?


  1. Mr Stricter
    October 14, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    If I were born to the conditions they lived in and possessed any of the genetic adaptations they did, I have no doubt I could.

    The small tribes of stone age hunter gatherers that still exist today do after all.

    I would suggest however the conditions they lived in might not be as bad as we think they were. This would account for the greater amount of food they’d need. Rather than the deep ice age, they might have had a lighter one.

    Also re: tool kit. Modern tests have shown how deadly sharp flint tools such as Mesolithic Spears, Bows and Arrows and Slings Stones could be . In expert hands they take down all manner of game with fair ease and dress it as well. Members that can’t hunt nap them and gather when needed thus providing a steady supply.

    I also suspect that stone age man had some food preservation tech, either dropping in ice (ice age means freezers for all) or salt or maybe occasionally honey cures.

  2. Starets
    October 14, 2011 at 8:48 pm



    Perhaps buffalo jumps? They took a great deal of planning and cooperation. However, the Neanderthal at least are thought to have had complex social groups.

    What about H.heidelbergensis- the likely ancestor of both neanderthals and humans? Pretty much every adult male of that species was a 6-7 foot tall creature with something like 3-4 times the muscle mass of an athletic man of that height.

    If we assume that they were capable of organizing buffalo jump type hunts then they were much smarter than we think. The same is true for neanderthals, only on a much larger scale.

    Also note that neanderthals often lived in the same area and era as humans without becoming extinct. Even assuming a chronological overlap as small as one thousand years meant that they were equals.

  3. October 15, 2011 at 7:50 am

    “While palaeontologists unearth the tools of these creatures and describe them in great detail, how many wonder if they could live and prosper under the conditions these hominids supposedly existed? Could you do that with the same tools and social organization under conditions of relative prey abundance?”

    It’s more likely that not all the tools they used were yet excavated. Not to forget about tools made from perishable material.

    and that is precisely my point. Maybe wood, not stone, was the original material for making useful tools

    • October 15, 2011 at 2:04 pm

      Of course. I assumed that they used wood from the beginning. That’s why this issue was not very questionable.
      Wood can be used to make lots of things. Bones and ivory can also be used to cut or carve wood.

  4. Mr Stricter
    October 15, 2011 at 8:26 pm

    The amount of materials in a stone age tool kit was considerable actually, wood, bone, stone, fiber, animal and fish parts. In addition they had knowledge to change them very possibly through chemical means such as tanning via plant or brains

    Just because they did not have large scale settlements should not leave us to think our ancestors were stupid.

    Also regarding intelligence, I’ve seen ants build structures , reinforce them with hedges and defend them much the same way hominids do. Why couldn’t proto-humans do sophisticated things.

  5. AlekNovy
    October 20, 2011 at 9:31 am

    Wasn’t the average lifespan about 30 years? In the stone age the lifespan was even shorter.

    Infant mortality was high and less than 50% of kids lived past their fifth birthday- hence the 30 year average scam. But after that.. people lived pretty much as long as they used to before modern medicine. So many lived well into their 60s.

  6. Nihith amaravadi
    October 21, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    Australopithecus was strong enough to physically attack big cats

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