Pissed off lions

lions in the rainy“Eat what you kill,” is proclaimed by some as an approach to  life.

That attitude probably wasn’t  followed for much of man’s time on earth.

As a small, weak species, arising in Africa a quarter of a million years ago, we  survived by hook and by crook, working in cooperation with each other. For a long time we probably weren’t even hunter-gatherers. Instead, we were scavenger-gatherers.

Our ancestors traded the safety of trees for living on African grasslands where they had to deal with bigger threats from predators.  Compared to lions, hyenas and the like, we were weaker, slower, and lacked scary body parts, even our skin was soft. We could forget about competing by smelling, hearing, or seeing better.

But we were smarter than potential predators.

So we came up with “work arounds” for our weaknesses. Charles Darwin pointed out that, “In the long history of humankind, those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.” Pursuing our individual goals while being supportive of other people’s goals is fundamental to human life. We still have those tendencies today.

Behind almost every threat, a new strategy was waiting to be born. Working together, we could be threatening enough to fool predators.  We could throw rocks, stick together to appear bigger, make threatening noises, and other clever strategies.

While being attacked, or during confrontational scavenging raids, we had group members by our sides with stones to throw. If a lion gets injured by a rock attacking humans, it flees, preferring to lose a meal rather than risk its life by continuing to fight.

When a predator recognizes you and your kind, and remembers getting scared or thwarted in past encounters, it learns to worry about attacking you. Ideally, predators would recognize humans as unprofitable to pursue.

Sometimes we could scare a predator away from it’s kill. We could also eat bone marrow. Predators often couldn’t get to it. We could by smashing bones apart with rocks. But this needed other people as lookouts and helpers.

Cooperation was our big advantage and it seems to be a baked-in feature of humans as much as “eat what you kill.”