About Me

My photo
I'm a life-long New Englander, father of 4 challenging kids (I know: I'm supposed to say "wonderful", but while that'd be true, technically speaking, it'd also be misleading), and fortunate husband to my favorite wife of more than 20 years. I've got over 20 years experience breaking things as a test engineer, quality engineer, reliability engineer, and most recently (and most enjoyably) a Product Safety / EMC Compliance Engineer. In the photo, I'm on the left.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Humans Consuming Animal Flesh

In our last exciting episode (HERE), we discussed whether or not mankind developed a large brain as a result of eating meat, or as a result of catching the meat in order to eat it, or whether there might have been still some other evolutionary pressure that transpired at a similar time when we started eating meat (like, plus or (more likely) minus 100,000 years or so).

The comments from that post largely echoed a theory that I've developed and embraced regarding humans eating meat in general. I've had this conversation many times, and almost to a time the person to whom I've spoken has taken a viewpoint opposite mine, which is why your lovely comments were so interesting to me.

The premise of this theory is that humans were not designed to eat meat.

As I've mentioned in the past, I watch a lot of documentaries. I like to watch animals running around in their natural habitats trying to survive. I get a kick out of that, for some reason. I also like to watch Bear Grylls or Les Stroud bumble around in crazy remote locations, showing us survival techniques. Next time that I wake up, having mysteriously been transported to a remote wilderness location, I'll thank these guys and their tutelage.

In any event, you watch enough of these shows, and (as CarrieBOO observes), it seems to me that you can't help but notice that the animals that were designed to eat meat have a few things in common.

BIG, POINTY TEETH is one of those things.

Big, strong claws are frequently a part of the design:

^%^#%$#%^$  no, no, nooo...THESE claws:

Friggin' editors.

The bottom line is that, given our design (without the big brain), I really can't see humans living long enough "back in the day" to procreate.

Can you see Pee-Wee Herman out in the wild, looking for food?

'Daddy, I'm hungry. Can you get me something to eat?"

 "I want cave bear!!"

Humans don't have any of the tools that would be necessary to catch meat, even if we define meat as the dodo bird (nice and friendly and would walk right up to you for a cup of coffee). History proves that we'd have eaten all of them in no time, and then what? Kangaroo look nice.

Small claws, no huge teeth...I can do this.


We don't have the speed to reliably catch squirrels or chickens, we don't have the claws to rip into thick cow hides (even if we got past the horns and legs that kick harder than the Rockettes), nor do we have the teeth to tear off large chunks of meat. And not for nothing, a big part of eating meat in the animal kingdom is defending your food from other beasts that also want to eat it. Seems to me that a dead monkey in the wild would serve as good bait for other animals who want to eat human.

I do think, though, that we are pretty well designed for eating plant and staying out of the way of things that eat meat. Opposable thumbs, for instance: great for picking through thorns to get at the berries and climbing trees to get away from dogs and kangaroos (even dodos). Our front teeth are a great design for scraping fruit rinds like melons, and the rear teeth are good for grinding other plant matter like corn.

Standing upright allows us to carry fruits back to the young'ns and also to stand like a meerkat looking for danger.

You know, I don't think that we'd be able to reliably catch a meerkat without a bigger brain. Pretty damn easy to catch a watermelon though.

Good eatin' too.

PLUS, you can make clothes out of them:

And protective gear:

Really, who wouldn't want one of these:


  1. Along these lines I recently realized that humans were not designed to swim. We cannot breathe underwater. Our long, heavy bones and relatively little amounts of cartilege and joints is impractical for effective and swift movement in water. Living things designed for swimming have webbing and fins. We do not. Many, many people drown every year. Swimming should be banned. It's just not natural.

    1. I don't think it should be banned, but I do agree that we weren't designed for it. Or, I guess that we *were* designed for it, but then we screwed with the original plans!

  2. Yay. Many (most) well all of them really believe that I am not entirely sane for becoming a vegetarian. While I didn't do so for animalarian reasons it is a whole heap easier and I really don't miss meat.
    I like your theory while being more than a little convinced that your next post will have equally compelling reasons why becoming meat eaters was a result of increased gey matter and an evolutionary too.

    1. Sorry. Fingers and brain not in synch this morning. All of my family believe I am not entirely sane ....

    2. My second decided to go Vegetarian on my a number of years ago, and I swear that he's a bundle healthier for it.

      Pursuant with my theory, I have to think that we'd all be healthier for adopting a vegetarian lifestyle. That said, pass me a nice, juicy hamburger. :)

  3. I will love the hell out of any blog that mentions Pee-Wee Herman.

    1. Excellent! I stumbled onto a loyal reader! Hehe

  4. In my early edition Oliver Goldsmith 'Natural History' book, he describes the Dodo as being of such a size to feed 10 men. Not surprising they were wiped out. He failed to say how good they were to eat; maybe that was the answer, and hungry sailors would probably have eaten anything that wasn't biscuits..

    1. I've heard folks suggest that one way that humans got along is that we taste bad, so other critters don't like to eat us. I haven't seen the research on that yet though.

  5. Just catching up here. LOLOL! What a post. We watch a spot of Bears here, too. I'm sure it will come in handy some day. Though, under pressure, I'm not sure how well I'll remember his tips. I'm relying on hubby for that.

    I survived for a long time eating only random pieces of chicken and fish. Eventually, I was persuaded to try a bite of juicy, bbq'd steak, and it was game over.

    Pee Wee Herman really shows how far we have evolved. Hahhaa. (I wonder if he eats meat.)

  6. I think I've had this particular conversation with you in the past. There were also similarities between our digestive systems and other herbivores' I think. Something about it taking far more intestines than we have to properly digest meat, or some such...

    Of course, we do not have 4 stomachs like the cows, but...

    Another thing that occurs to me: through evolution, we were biologically programmed to stay away from certain things by identifying dangers by smell... i.e. feces smells disgusting to us, because of all the bacteria and what not that would poison us, whereas to a different animal, say a dog, it doesn't smell that bad. I've SEEN them eat it with no adverse issues, etc...

    Seems to me that by that logic, something like uncooked meat ought to smell good if we were supposed to be eating it, no? But it doesn't... it very doesn't. Meat does not smell good until it's cooked, which I'd think is also something not of nature's intent: cooking one's food.

    Naturally not EVERYTHING we can't eat smells bad, and likewise, we can't eat everything that smells good, of course... just a generalization.

    That said, I would be one sad bastard if I had to give up eating meat.

  7. Doesn't the evolutionary trait of having two forward facing eyes suggest that hunting was very important? Darwin decided that we'd be better served with depth perception than a 300 degree field of view

    1. I think that may be a point, but I would argue that it's not black-and-white in my opinion; two forward-facing eyes (and the depth perception that it buys us) is certainly good for hunting, but it's also good for other things (like judging the distance of predatory animals across the Savannah).

      You just never know...