When Humans Were Prey

  • Published on: 08 January 2019
  • Not too long ago, our early human ancestors were under constant threat of attack from predators. And it turns out that this difficult chapter in our history may be responsible for the adaptations that allowed us to become so successful.

    Thanks to Julio Lacerda and Studio 252mya for the illustrations of the Taung Child. You can find more of Julio's work here: https://252mya.com/gallery/julio-lacerda

    Produced in collaboration with PBS Digital Studios: http://youtube.com/pbsdigitalstudios

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    Berger, L. R. (2006). Brief communication: Predatory bird damage to the Taung type-skull of Australopithecus africanus Dart 1925. American Journal of Physical Anthropology: The Official Publication of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists, 131(2), 166-168.
    Berger, L. R., & Clarke, R. J. (1995). Eagle involvement in accumulation of the Taung child fauna. Journal of Human Evolution, 29(3), 275-299.
    Berger, L. R., & McGraw, W. S. (2007). Further evidence for eagle predation of, and feeding damage on, the Taung child. South African Journal of Science, 103(11-12), 496-498.
    Blumenschine, R. J., Stanistreet, I. G., Njau, J. K., Bamford, M. K., Masao, F. T., Albert, R. M., ... & Fernández-Jalvo, Y. (2012). Environments and hominin activities across the FLK Peninsula during Zinjanthropus times (1.84 Ma), Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania. Journal of Human Evolution, 63(2), 364-383.
    Brain, C. K. (1970). New finds at the Swartkrans australopithecine site. Nature, 225(5238), 1112.
    Brain, C. K. (1983). The hunters or the hunted?: an introduction to African cave taphonomy. University of Chicago Press.
    Bunn, H. T. (1991). A taphonomic perspective on the archaeology of human origins. Annual Review of Anthropology, 20(1), 433-467.
    Dart, R. A. (1949). The predatory implemental technique of Australopithecus. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 7(1), 1-38.
    Dart, R. A. (1953). The predatory transition from ape to man. Brill.
    Dart, R. A. (1958). The Minimal Bone-Breccia Content of Makapansgat and the Australopithecine Predatory Habit. American Anthropologist, 60(5), 923-931.
    Hart, D. (2018). Man the hunted: Primates, predators, and human evolution. Routledge.
    Hart, D., & Sussman, R. W. (2011). The influence of predation on primate and early human evolution: impetus for cooperation. In Origins of Altruism and Cooperation (pp. 19-40). Springer, New York, NY.
    Njau, J. K., & Blumenschine, R. J. (2006). A diagnosis of crocodile feeding traces on larger mammal bone, with fossil examples from the Plio-Pleistocene Olduvai Basin, Tanzania. Journal of Human Evolution, 50(2), 142-162.
    Njau, J. K., & Blumenschine, R. J. (2012). Crocodylian and mammalian carnivore feeding traces on hominid fossils from FLK 22 and FLK NN 3, Plio-Pleistocene, Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania. Journal of human evolution, 63(2), 408-417.
    Pickering, T. R., Schick, K. D., & Toth, N. P. (Eds.). (2007). Breathing life into fossils: taphonomic studies in honor of CK (Bob) Brain. Gosport, IN: Stone Age Institute Press.
    Tobias, P. V. (1990). When and by whom was the Taung skull discovered. Para conocer al hombre: homenaje a Santiago Genovése. Mexico City: Universidad Nacional Autonoma da Mexico, 207-213.
    Washburn, S. L. (1957). Australopithecines: the hunters or the hunted?. American Anthropologist, 59(4), 612-614.
    Zuberbühler, K., & Jenny, D. (2002). Leopard predation and primate evolution. Journal of Human Evolution, 43(6), 873-886.
  • Runtime : 9:52
  • dinosaurs dinos paleo paleontology scishow eons pbs pbs digital studios hank green john green complexly fossils natural history Taung South Africa juvenile hominin Taung Child australopithecines predators prey skull Australopithecus Paranthropus robustus Raymond Dart chimpanzees Neanderthal Homo habilis Leakey Olduvai Gorge Tanzania hyena leopard cave anthropology


  • fck fracking
    fck fracking   1 hours ago

    I know scientists like to have actual proof, but I mean isn’t it just common sense that humans were prey for other animals in the past?? Damn humans are still prey to this day. I lid like to see the statistics on how many people around the globe get killed by animals every year. Especially from bears, wolves, big cats, gators, crocs, sharks, and poisonous insects and reptiles.

  • jason townsend
    jason townsend   22 hours ago

    What an amazing imagination, substitute unknowns with words like human child, or early ancestor A fascinating story from few small bones found together.

  • Viktor_V/-\ughn* Da_Vaudville*_villaiN••

    The most interesting thing about human evolution is how we got the frontal lobe which makes us human after all, which is a result of the way the body adapted to standing upright which shifted our hips forward and made the base of our spine into a column which in turn placed the brain in a stable position which gave the brain some room to grow forward and creating the extended frontal lobe of our brains and all this starts with our feet and the way we walk and the posture we gained

  • hcmandude
    hcmandude   1 days ago

    liked the video but gave it a dislike cause you said fam at the end

  • Chase L
    Chase L   1 days ago

    Bro bro looks like the taung child

  • LoLJay
    LoLJay   1 days ago

    Welllll then we got revenge HAHA we won the lost!

  • ahri
    ahri   2 days ago

    I don’t have a single sharp bone or sharp piece of keratin on my body and some dude just 80 years ago wanted to say our ancestors were naturally predators? My cat would be offended.

  • komujimaru
    komujimaru   2 days ago

    what civilisation was before maya aztec. or even before that ?

  • Jordan Howell
    Jordan Howell   2 days ago

    Well that amazon advertisement was a complete waste of time.

  • Pasteloween
    Pasteloween   3 days ago

    There are really vegans out there that believe humans are herbivores and never evolved to eat meat

  • I am Unicron
    I am Unicron   3 days ago

    To this day, without our guns, without all the buildings, we're still prey

  • Nugget
    Nugget   3 days ago

    Now humans have guns and bombsF you giant birds and cats

  • B. Teddy
    B. Teddy   4 days ago

    i cant wait to play a remaster of GTA of their time

  • Sandro
    Sandro   4 days ago

    That's new for me )Thanks! )

  • BloodStalker 500
    BloodStalker 500   5 days ago

    So basically, humans are the greatest example of "careful who you bully in high school".Because they might eventually evolve to become powerful enough to annihilate your species and own the planet.

  • clobbyhops
    clobbyhops   5 days ago

    5:05, Lois and Mary Leakey both look like men

  • johann adams
    johann adams   6 days ago

    Anybody else have to pause the video at 8:39? Yup.

  • Carlos valdes
    Carlos valdes   6 days ago

    How come back if we came from apes do we still have apes running around and not just all be humans

  • Dennis
    Dennis   1 weeks ago

    These are good vids. The predation by big birds theories makes me wonder about the myths of thunder birds, etc. and about how long cultural memory persists in hominids. Plus watching our family dog, duck or crouch when the shadow of large bird passes over him (we have an eagles nest on our property so these shadow passings happen with some regularity) makes wonder how this ties into myth vs natural selective pressures kinda of things.

  • Steve Lawrie
    Steve Lawrie   1 weeks ago

    Yep, I was of the opinion that leopards where our biggest concern.

  • Babyccino Au
    Babyccino Au   1 weeks ago

    Me: looks at thisAlso me: Laughs in steak

  • Lucroq
    Lucroq   1 weeks ago

    I've heard of a hypothesis that the mythical uberbeast, the dragon, is a culmination of our once main predators: Snakes, crocs, big cats and giant birds of prey. This would explain why similar creatures can be found in lore all over the world.

    ULOIRAR   1 weeks ago

    If anything, the extinctions we cause are just revenge!

  • halmrkcrdz2
    halmrkcrdz2   1 weeks ago

    Stupid birds... Just give us a few generations and we'll pollute your air

  • CaptainALI
    CaptainALI   1 weeks ago

    WRONG not in africa caucasian are likeley neanderthrahl dna

  • Damned Yankee
    Damned Yankee   1 weeks ago

    Very interesting. But we still at ( at times ) prey. You forget that at your own peril. Use common sense, not pie - in - the - sky idealism ( your not on the menu, just being tasted ) or in ' THEIR " territory so ~ your problem. Be ready to defend yourselves in the wild ( outdoors )

  • Sachin Raghavan
    Sachin Raghavan   1 weeks ago

    The world was better this way. Today, humans behave like demons. Just read some of the comments.

    NOYDB   1 weeks ago

    The possibility that these are just human dead. Carted away for nom.nom?

  • YavinPrime
    YavinPrime   1 weeks ago

    I won't look at my chicken burger the same anymore. A long time ago the roles could have been reversed ;)

  • syed irtiza hussain
    syed irtiza hussain   1 weeks ago

    I like science but few things are just unbelievable about science for example science says that humans were monkeys seriously? You fools human is human and monkey is monkey you cannot mix them

  • Miss Not Of This World

    Humans are Still Prey. People get eaten every day regularly in different parts of the world. We're made of meat and Prey Animals still exist in An Amount sufficient enough to still kill and eat us it's that simple. We're not at the Top of the Food Chain either. We're somewhere in the Middle. Without weapons we basically don't have a Snowball's chance in Hell of Fighting off a Predatory Animal. Not most of the time Anyway.

  • James Bryerton
    James Bryerton   1 weeks ago

    the tuang child was proved to be a monkey in 2010 by french scientists. they keep pushing this evolution with no evidence its just a lame theoory