In a new book, an anthropologist at Washington University in St. Louis goes against the prevailing view and argues that primates, including early humans, evolved not as hunters but as prey of many predators, including wild dogs and cats, hyenas, eagles and crocodiles.
Despite popular theories posed in research papers and popular literature, early man was not an aggressive killer, argues Robert W. Sussman, Ph.D., professor of anthropology in Arts & Sciences.
Sussman's book, "Man the Hunted: Primates, Predators and Human Evolution," poses a new theory, based on the fossil record and living primate species, that primates have been prey for millions of years, a fact that greatly influenced the evolution of early man.
He co-authored the book with Donna L. Hart, Ph.D., a member of the faculty of Pierre Laclede Honors College and the Department of Anthropology at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. The book is scheduled to be released in late February.
Our intelligence, cooperation and many other features we have as modern humans developed from our attempts to out-smart the predator, says Sussman.
Since the 1924 discovery of the first early humans, australopithicenes, which lived from seven million years ago to two million years ago, many scientists theorized that those early human ancestors were hunters and possessed a killer instinct.
Through his research and writing, Sussman has worked for years to debunk that theory. An expert in the ecology and social structure of primates, Sussman does extensive fieldwork in primate behavior and ecology in Costa Rica, Guyana, Madagascar and Mauritius. He is the author and editor of several books, including "The Origins and Nature of Sociality," "Primate Ecology and Social Structure," and "The Biological Basis of Human Behavior: A Critical Review."
Contact: Neil Schoenherr
Washington University in St. Louis