Early Humans Craved Brains in Ancient Diet: It's not Just Zombies

First Posted: May 06, 2013 11:19 AM EDT

It's not just zombies that have a taste for brains. Ancient humans also sought out the gelatinous material as a daily meal. Archaeologists have recently discovered fossils from our human ancestors that reveal that they had a serious hankering for antelope brains, according to Science News.

About two million years ago, some of our human ancestors lived in East Africa. There, they hunted and gathered in a subsistence-style living, sometimes scavenging the leftovers from other predators. Considering the difficulty of this kind of lifestyle, it's perhaps unsurprising that they didn't waste any parts of the body.

In the latest find, the researchers unearthed several thousand complete and partial animal bones, representing at least 81 individual animals, at a site called Kanjera South in Kenya. They found stone tool marks on the bones, which indicated that animals were cut into parts before hunters stripped the flesh from the meatiest parts of them. In addition, they discovered relatively few tooth marks of other predators, such as lions, which indicated that these humans must have mostly killed their game. What they didn't find, though, was burned wood or other signs of cooking. It's very possible that these early humans ate their meat raw or just cooked elsewhere.

They didn't just find signs of hunting, though. The researchers also discovered the taste preferences of these early humans. While there were plenty of bones of smaller animals, which were conceivably hunted by humans, they also discovered a disproportionate amount of skulls from larger animals. These skulls in particular displayed dents and fractures that were created as humans hammered at them to get to the brain tissue. It's possible that humans took the heads off of larger animals that had been brought down by lions or other large predators and then ate the brains.

These findings could allow researchers to understand a little bit more about the evolution of humans and how they lived millions of years ago. In addition, it shows how our diet has changed over the years.

The findings are published in the journal PLOS One.

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