Hominid Carnivory and Foraging Strategies, and the Socio-Economic Function of Early Archaeological Sites
New evidence for the tissue types exploited by early hominids from carcasses possibly acquired through scavenging is derived from the larger mammal bone assemblages from FLK I, level 22 (Zinjanthropus floor), and FLKN levels 1 and 2 from Bed I, Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania. Published skeletal part profiles from the two archaeological sites are evaluated using (i) modern observations on the sequence by which carnivores consume carcass parts in order to assess the timing of hominid access to carcasses, and (ii) measurements of flesh and marrow yields to assess the tissue types sought and acquired. These results suggest that the maximization of marrow (fat) yields, not flesh (protein) yields, was the criterion shaping decisions about carcass processing. Because of evidence for density-dependent destruction of some flesh-bearing parts by scavengers of the hominid-butchered assemblages, however, it is uncertain whether carcass parts were transported and acquired by hominids in a largely defleshed condition. The results on tissue types acquired are combined with a discussion of predation risk, feeding competition and the equipment needs of carcass processing in an attempt to identify archaeological test implications of competing hypotheses for the socio-economic function of the earliest archaeological sites.
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London Series B
- Pub Date:
- November 1991