Posts Tagged ‘Bushmen’

Humans started migrating from Africa about 40,000 years ago. We are all Africans. In The Old Way: A Story of the First People Elizabeth Marshall Thomas tells the story of what the Bushmen were like in the 1950s, when they had had little contact with the “modern” world. In other words, they were living very much like our ancestors 40,000 years ago. That’s about as close to “Grok” as we are going to get. For anyone following Paleo, Primal or other lifestyles based on paleolithic life, this book is a must read.

The Old Way shatters our stereotypes of “cavemen,” aside from the fact that they didn’t live in caves. From B movies and cartoons, we have this image of hulking Neanderthal types with huge clubs, bows and arrows, and spears hunting saber-toothed tigers, getting their woman by knocking them over the head with the club and dragging them home. The women going out gathering nuts and juicy berries every day. Constant warfare. The men heavy metal proto-Vikings in loin cloths. Pfft! Never happened in our African homeland.

The reality as seen in the Bushmen: Equality between men and women. Everyone caring for children. Men armed with crude spears and small bows for shooting poison darts. People eating a wide variety of foods. Only men hunting but everyone gathering. Peaceful relations within and between tribes. Also peaceful relations with lions. Thin, graceful men and women with great endurance not hulking, freaky-muscled Neanderthals. Get the picture? These are your ancestors.

More to come.


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There is endless arguing about what our hominid ancestors ate. Percentage of meat vs. plants. How much fat. Etc. Really, our ancestors scavenged for whatever was available, which differed immensely from era to era and region to region.

This quotation is from Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, who, with her parents and brother, lived among the Bushmen when their society was like it had been for perhaps tens of thousands of years. Not hardly our stereotype of “cavemen” but they may be very close to our ancestors.

The Ju/wasi ate about eighty kinds of plants, including twenty-five kinds of roots, seven or eight kinds of berries, five kinds of nuts, sixteen or seventeen kinds of fruits, three or four kinds of melons, four kinds of leaves of which two resembled spinach, eleven kinds of tree gum, and two kinds of beans from pods. They also ate palm hearts. The Old Way: A Story of the First People

The Bushmen also ate eland (antelope) and other game. Not picky eaters. Scavengers.

Draft Timeline
Based mostly on The Timeline of Dietary Shifts in the Human Line of Evolution by Ward Nicholson.
3.7 million years ago – Australopithecus afarensis (e.g. “Lucy”), first known hominid. Ate mostly plants and fruit, with some meat and insects.
2-3 million years ago – Glaciation. Breakup of African forests into a mosaic of riparian forests and grasslands (savannas).
2.3 to 1.5 million years ago – Homo habilis, first “true humans.” May have hunted or just scavenged meat left by better predators such as lions, and anything else they could find to eat. Percentage of meat in diet would have been fairly small either way.
1 million to 750,000 years ago – First controlled use of fire (usually from lightning) for cooking.
230,000 to 170,000 years ago – Homo erectus Better tools. More hunting, more meat.
<200,000 years ago. Humans and Neanderthals diverge from a common ancestor.
<200,000 to about 28,000 years ago – Homo sapiens neanderthalensis (Neanderthal subspecies) in Europe. Adapted to very cold weather. Fit our stereotype of “cavemen.” Hunted large animals. Didn’t eat a lot of veggies.
<200,000 years ago – First Homo sapiens sapiens (us). Two populations (East Africa and Southern Africa), separating about this time and remaining separate until around 40,000 years ago.
115,000 years ago. Ice age. Our Homo sapiens sapiens ancestors may have hunkered down by seashores, where the temperature is never extreme. Perhaps at the southwestern tip of Africa. If so, they ate what can be found by the sea, such as shellfish, shore birds, tubers, bulbs, corms and, IMHO, seaweed.
69,000 to 77,000 years ago. Toba monster volcanic eruption in Indonesia creates a year-long “volcanic winter” lasting from 10 years to 1000 years. It probably kills all Homo sapiens except for the small populations in Africa (perhaps only a few hundred).
60,000 to 40,000 years ago – Migration out of Africa to the whole world. Migration routes commonly along seashores. More seafood. The general opinion is that all of our direct ancestors came from Africa starting around 60,000 years ago.
>40,000 years ago. Some of our ancestors mated with Neanderthals.
Even if your ancestors went to Europe or other cold regions, like mine did, and went inland from the coast, that’s only at most 40,000 years of adaptation to a stereotypical “caveman” lifestyle.
10,000 years ago. The beginning of agriculture in a few places.

So, over 2 million years of scavenging, not “Me caveman. Me eat raw meat.” “Homo scavenger.” (I tried to find a Latin word for scavenger. No luck.)

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Ancient Grok ran around outside in a loincloth or nothing all day. Since you probably can’t do that, especially not nakkie, you need to take vitamin D. Forget the conventional wisdom about sun screen and getting enough D by going outside 30 minutes a day in short sleeves. Mark has posted several blogs about sunlight and D. Here is a basic one.

There is an excellent thread in Mark’s Daily Apple. The person who started the thread, Katherine or “Cillakat” as she is called in the forum, has studied vitamin D extensively. She suggests 1000 mg per 25 pound body weight per day in the winter. Less when you are getting lots of sun.

So you think you are getting enough vitamin D and sunshine? Read this post by Dr. Davis. (He has lots of good information but he is not primal or paleo.)

Skeptical? You must read this!

My personal experience –  decrease in colds and flus, and much shorter when I do get them.

Vitamin K – See Mark’s post. However, I take some additional K2 to help the vitamin D3 work properly. I am not convinced that just doing Primal gives me enough K.

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