Ever wonder what (other than Rule Five fulsomeness) led to mankind’s domination of the planet? Turns out it may be sweating. Excerpt:
One theory of human evolution states that our ancestors began eating meat about 2 million years ago, which rapidly expanded the development of their brains. Since meat packed a lot of calories and fat, a meat-based diet allowed the brain to grow larger. But how did early humans get that meat?
One way was eating carcasses, just like pack animals of today still do. The human tapeworm evolved from the kind that infects dogs and hyenas, which means that at some point, we must’ve fed on the same carcasses as them, and came into contact with their saliva. But this wasn’t the only way we obtained meat.
Early humans must’ve taken part in hunting too. Yet, hominins didn’t begin using stones and sticks for hunting until about 200,000 years ago. So between 2.3 million and 200,000 years ago, how did early humans hunt? According to journalist and writer Christopher McDougall, author of the book Born to Run, we ran game animals to death in order to feast upon them.
The ability to run long distances and sweat—so as not to overheat, allowed our ancestors to wear out other animals. Sweating was the key factor. Consider a gazelle running over long distances and being chased by our progenitors. The fact that they can sweat and the gazelle can’t means they can last far longer in the heat of the African Savannah.
It’s generally thought that human (and near-human) consumption of a high-protein, high-fat diet started before any evidence of specialized hunting tools, and long before the use of fire.
Whether or not early humans ran down prey and literally tore it apart rather than relying on carrion is, of course, speculation, but it is logical to presume that the advent of meat-eating yielded a dietary advantage allowing more metabolic power devoted to large brains; hominids with larger brains were better at obtaining meat, resulting in a sort of self-reinforcing evolutionary feedback loop that resulted in us.
Either way – ultimately, hunting is what led to us being human. Keep that in mind on your next foray afield.