Saturday, 21 April 2012

Pass me another mammoth rib: Why eating meat was the secret of human success and separated us from the apes



Tucking into meat for dinner helped early humans to spread more quickly across the world and had a profound effect on human evolution, scientists say.

The high-quality diet allowed mothers to wean babies earlier and have more children, meaning that human communities grew faster, according to researchers from Lund University in Sweden.

The research compared 67 species of mammals, including humans, apes, mice and killer whales, and found a clear correlation between eating meat and earlier weaning.

They found young of all species stop suckling when their brains have developed to a particular stage, but that carnivores reached this point more quickly than herbivores or omnivores.

'Eating meat enabled the breast-feeding periods and thereby the time between births to be shortened,' said Elia Psouni, lead author of the study.

'This must have had a crucial impact on human evolution.'

Among natural fertility societies, the average duration of breast-feeding is 2 years and 4 months. This is not much in relation to the maximum lifespan of our species, around 120 years.

It is even less if compared to our closest relatives: female chimpanzees suckle their young for 4 to 5 years, whereas the maximum lifespan for chimpanzees is only 60 years.


Read on:  
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2131933/Pass-mammoth-rib-Eating-meat-helped-early-man-spread-quickly-profoundly-affected-evolution.html

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