Early members of the human family enjoyed digging into the heads of antelope and wildebeests, according to a new study.
Anthropologist Joseph Ferraro and colleagues at Baylor University in Waco, Texas discovered several sets of bones in Kenya that show evidence that early humans ate the brain matter of animals they hunted.
The team found a large number of animal skulls at hunting sites, leading them to ask why early humans would, "acquire, transport, and process an abundance of medium-sized heads," according to the study published in the journal PLOS One.
The answer, they say, lies in the brain matter's "wealth of fatty, calorie-packed, nutrient rich tissues: rare and valuable food resource in a grassland setting where alternate high-value foodstuffs (fruits, nuts, etc.) are often unavailable."
The fatty tissue of the brain could have given early Homo erectus the added energy boost he needed to hunt another day. Scientists say this brain matter may have helped humans develop to support larger bodies, bigger brains and travel longer distances.
According to Science News, the study shows early humans likely chased and tracked their kill to settlements in Kanjera South, a region in East Africa. Ancient humans also would scavenge for large predators, such as mammoths and tigers, to haul back for a meal. Our ancestors also scavenged the untouched heads from carcasses left behind by large predators after the animals had its fill. Evidence of dents inside the skulls indicate early humans dug in with sharply cut stones to get at the brains inside.
Scientists also found that early humans had a primarily meat-eating diet but saw little evidence of cooking. This led them to conclude most early humans ate raw meat in their diet.
These findings could allow researchers to understand a little bit more about the evolution of humans and how our diet has changed over the years.