Meat-eating essential to human evolution

By Melodie Michel

- Last updated on GMT

Eating meat played a major role in human evolution by prompting early weaning, according to new research.

Analysing the limb biomechanics and dietary profiles of 67 mammal species, the study, funded by the Swedish Research Council, found that carnivors weaned sooner than non-carnivors, leading to earlier development. They believe this played a crucial role in human evolution, compared to great apes.

“Since early weaning yields shorter interbirth intervals and higher rates of reproduction, with profound effects on population dynamics, our findings highlight the emergence of carnivory as a process fundamentally determining human evolution,” the study said, adding that weaning timing seemed to be determined by the same factors in humans as in other mammals, despite some 90 million years of evolution.

Researchers concluded that early weaning provoked by meat-eating was a “necessary and sufficient explanation” to why humans evolved differently from great apes.

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