We think of Man as #1

Monday, January 10th, 2022

We think of Man as #1, Greg Cochran says, but it wasn’t always true:

I’ve been reading Thin on the Ground, a book by Stephen Churchill. One of his ideas is based on the fact some predator species are dominant over others and get the lion’s share (cough, cough) of the kills. Lions frequently steal carcasses from hyenas, while everyone steals from cheetahs and wild dogs, etc.

There is good evidence (stable isotope data) that Neanderthals were highly carnivorous, and that they used thrusting spears, which are effective but not as generally useful as atlatls — standoff weapons. Churchill suspects that with their thrusting spears tech, Neanderthals were not the top dogs of the predator guild, and that they may have been dominated by cave lions and scimitar cats, while having approximately equal status with hyenas. In practice, this would mean that Neanderthals often lost kills to high-ranked carnivores such as cave lions. The majority of calories from animal kills would go to higher-ranked carnivores (not to Neanderthals) . Neanderthal population size would be limited, and some environments (like open plains, where kills are highly visible) might be effectively closed to them.


  1. Lu An Li says:

    Weren’t many Neanderthals around anyhow. Estimated at any given moment about only 2,000 total over a very wide expanse of land.

    I have often thought meat-eating an important step forward for the humanoid species. You get more calories and nutrition in a smaller package faster when eating meat. Time saved by not foraging can be used for cultural purposes of some sort.

    The Neanderthal hunting as a team for a large animal with thrusting spears aiming for the anus and rectum of a trapped animal. Speared creature slowly bleeds to death. That is how the pygmies hunt elephant in Africa to this day.

    Remember that last fact if you have to hunt a wooly mammoth some day.

  2. Gavin Longmuir says:

    It seems we are getting links which effectively promote the benefits of being cold & hungry.

    Is Biden* paying for this ?

    ( /sarc, in case anyone is wondering)

  3. Wang Wei Lin says:

    Gavin, “You’ll own nothing and be happy,” not even your food.

  4. Szopen says:

    The “em” emphasis html tag is not closed

  5. Isegoria says:

    Thanks, Szopen.

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