The Evolution of Human Nutrition

Tracing the evolution of the human diet from our earliest ancestors can lead to a better understanding of human adaptation in the past. It may also offer clues to the origin of many health problems that we currently face, such as obesity and chronic disease. The CARTA public symposium on "The Evolution of Human Nutrition" brought together scientists from a wide variety of backgrounds to explore the diets of our ancestors. What did early humans eat? Were the nutritional requirements and dietary needs of contemporary humans established in our prehistoric past? At this symposium, a lively discussion took place about the changing diets of our ancestors - from australopith diets to current hunter-gatherer diets - and what role these dietary transitions played in the evolution of humans. (from

Archaic Human Diets. At least three major transitions can be seen from the archaeological record of meat-eating. Mary Stiner (Univ of Arizona) explains how each of these transitions came with new labor and social arrangements that extended well beyond the mechanics of hunting. The transitions also relate to major changes in environmental carrying capacity and human population densities. These changes are predicated on new ways of capturing energy and insulating the group (especially children) from variation in the supplies of high quality food.

7. Archaic Human Diets

Go to the Series Home or watch other lectures:

1. Background and Overview
2. Diets and Microbes in Primates
3. Current Hunter-Gatherer Diets
4. Australopith Diets
5. Fire, Starch, Meat, and Honey
6. Neanderthal Diets
7. Archaic Human Diets
8. Agriculture's Impact on Human Evolution
9. Impact of Globalization on Children's Nutrition