A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America
Computer Model Tests Ideas About Scavenging Hominins
Monday, October 2, 2023
BURGOS, SPAIN—According to a Cosmos Magazine report, Ana Mateos and Jesús Rodríguez of Spain’s National Research Center on Human Evolution (CENIEH) and their colleagues created a computer simulation to investigate how groups of scavenging hominins living in the Iberian Peninsula about one million years ago might have fared while competing with giant hyenas for food. The study suggests that a team of five or more hominins would have been able to chase giant hyenas away from a carcass. In this scenario, the hominin population outnumbered the giant hyenas by the end of the simulation. When scavenging in smaller groups, however, the hominins only survived to the end of the simulation if the model also included many predators to produce more opportunities to scavenge. The researchers concluded that a group comprised of between 10 and 13 hominins was optimal, allowing the group members to protect each other from predation while improving scavenging efficiency. More than 10 individuals even allowed the hominins to chase large predators away from the food source, but a group made up of more than 13 hominins required more food sources to sustain itself. Read the original scholarly article about this research in Scientific Reports. For more on hominin scavenging, go to "Marrow of Humanity."
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