When We Were Bug-eaters

By Kathy A. Svitil|Sunday, April 01, 2001
RELATED TAGS: HUMAN EVOLUTION



Erase that picture of man the hunter: Early humans may have spent a million years snacking on termites.

Thin, sticklike bone implements (below) are common at hominid sites in South Africa 1 million to 2 million years old. Anthropologists had believed the tools were used to unearth tubers. But Francesco d'Errico of the Institute of Quaternary Prehistory and Geology in Talence, France, and Lucinda Backwell of the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg found microscopic wear patterns indicating the tools were used to dig into termite mounds. "Anthropologists had given much importance to meat in human evolution, even suggesting hunting allowed our brains to grow," d'Errico says. "But termites and other insects clearly played an important role in early hominid diet, so perhaps other things stimulated evolution more than diet."


Photo by Francesco d'Errico/Institute of Quaternary Prehistory & Geology



 
Comment on this article
ADVERTISEMENT

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Collapse bottom bar
DSCOctCover
+

Log in to your account

X
Email address:
Password:
Remember me
Forgot your password?
No problem. Click here to have it emailed to you.

Not registered yet?

Register now for FREE. It takes only a few seconds to complete. Register now »