Saturday, April 22, 2006

Cave Dwellers as Cat Food?

Anthropologist Donna Hart looks at mankind's history and concludes that we were more often the hunted than we were the hunters. An excerpt:

The list of our ancestors' fossils showing evidence of predation continues to grow. A 1.75-million-year-old hominid skull unearthed in the Republic of Georgia shows punctures from the fangs of a saber-toothed cat. Another skull, about 900,000 years old, found in Kenya, exhibits carnivore bite marks on the brow ridge. A six-million-year-old hominid, also found in Kenya, may well have been killed by a leopard. A fragment of a 1.6-million-year-old hominid skull was found in the den of an extinct hyena, in Spain. A cranium from 250,000 years ago, discovered in South Africa in 1935, has a depression on the forehead caused by a hyena's tooth. Those and other fossils provide rock-hard proof that a host of large, fierce animals preyed on human ancestors.

It is equally clear that, outside the West, no small amount of predation occurs today on modern humans. Although we are not likely to see these facts in American newspaper headlines, each year 3,000 people in sub-Saharan Africa are eaten by crocodiles, and 1,500 Tibetans are killed by bears about the size of grizzlies. In one Indian state between 1988 and 1998, over 200 people were attacked by leopards; 612 people were killed by tigers in the Sundarbans delta of India and Bangladesh between 1975 and 1985. The carnivore zoologist Hans Kruuk, of the University of Aberdeen, studied death records in Eastern Europe and concluded that wolf predation on humans is still a fact of life in the region, as it was until the 19th century in Western European countries like France and Holland.

[HT: Arts & Letters Daily ]

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