could early man eat raw meat...

has evolution and ages of not having to live like animals made us weaker?

Eating raw meat! Who ever heard of such a thing?

<orders the steak tartare and sashimi special>

Subject a modern human to the basic survival physical demands of the last ice age, and you’ll find e’re still pretty hardy. And those of us who aren’t hardy will conveniently drop dead, letting natural selection take its course.

Personally, I’m happy to trade some stamina for a larger brain pain. It allows me to reason my way out of dangerous situations so I don’t have to be quite as tough.

Before refrigeration, meat would decompose quickly into a stinky unpalatable state unless preserved somehow; I suspect that knowledge of this would encourage people to eat it very fresh or not at all.

I quite like raw meat. I decided to experiment since I like rare beef so much and discovered that if I heat steak until it’s warm, but not cooked, it’s very nice.

Course, chewing’s a bitch.

I suppose it depends how long you want to live, too, right? My cats bolt all sorts of disgusting stuff with no thought for how it will affect their longevity.

I suspect that evolution (or it’s mother, or bitter experience, or a combination of all of these) has taught your cat exactly what it can and can’t eat to avoid a premature demise.

I thought the dangers from raw meat were mostly due to bacteria that ‘colonized’ it between the time the animal was killed and the time the meat got to my table.

Assuming theres no disease present or anything, how dangerous is freshly killed raw meat?

Well, there’s some danger in every food, but you can certainly live off of raw meat. Its just that most people like the taste of cooked more.

You’d be surprised; I’ve seen animals gnaw down on a lot of things that could not possibly be healthy for them. Modern convieniences don’t show up in evolutionary history much.

The main danger with raw meat is the pickup of parasites. Pig and horsemeat are well known for passing nasty things on

Mankind and his ancestors have been cooking meat for over 100,000 years. I’d guess that evolution has favoured cooked meat eaters over raw meat eaters for something like the following:

  1. Easier to digest so more nutritional value extracted pe pound of uncooked weight.
  2. Preferring cooked meat to raw reduces the numbers of live pathogens consumed with the meat. This gives an evolutionary advantage to those who cook meat for taste reasons over those who don’t care; they get sick less often.
  3. Cooking makes some previously inedible bits edible. E.g. pig’s trotters.

That’s not “over” enough. Homo Erectus appeared about 1.6 Million years ago and used fired. This guy claims using fire to cook goes back 1.9MYA. Many believe that the use of fire is what transitioned Homo from Habilis to Erectus (or even earlier). Which impacted teeth and jaw development (and thence other aspects of the skull).

So, we’ve been cooking meat a long time. OTOH the best Mexican restaurants I’ve been to usually have Carne Seca on the menu.

Could early man eat raw meat?
What, like worm?

I’m sure early man could have and did eat raw meat. Aside from my squeamishness and fear of parasites, the main thing keeping me from eating raw meat is the fact that it is vary tough. Anthropologists have long speculated that primitive man preferred brains, liver (the part of the buffalo the guy ate in Dances With Wolves), and marrow precisely because they are less tough. Cooking makes those cuts of meat chewable. If you don’t believe me, try eating your steak raw sometime.

Of course, you can also make things palatable by pre-grinding or tenderizing (steak tartare) or chemical means (read Harry Harrison’s West of Eden sometime). And you have to remember than primitive man probably consumed a lot of his animal protein in the form of bugs. (See Marvin Harris’ books, especially Good to Eat aka The Sacred Cow and the Abominable Pig).
As far as parasites go – if they’re present in the meat, you might catch them. Then you’ll have them. But they won’t kill you, in all likelihood. A good parasire doesn’t kill its host.

I shot an antelope last week on the ranch where much of Centennial was filmed. As I stood there with liver in hand, I thought of Dances With Wolves and the raw bite he took.

The prospect of an intestinal maelstrom prevented me from doing so however. Early man must have been either extremely hungry or tough, or quite likely he did suffer parasitically as Cal has suggested.

This could relate to the bloodtype thread–there’s one theory that suggests that people with different blood types are differentially better at [euphemism] flushing [/euphemism] parasites and worms from the gut.

Andy: I’m sure evolution helps the cats on the carrion front. This doesn’t preclude extensive vomiting up of, say, half-mousies.

I’ve read, btw, that when animals get domesticated, their bone structure gets “refined” (weaker), and that Man has been effectively domesticating himself. As a result (as Larry Gonick puts it in “The Cartoon History of the Universe”) “Early man could withstand blows that would do in you or me.” And could probably chew tougher meat, I suspect.

With the whole parasite deal: I don’t think that the meat would have much time to get parasites, unless they were present before the animal’s death. They hunted and then ate what they killed, probably that same day. The difference in time between when an animal is slaughtered and when it gets to my supermarket is much greater and thus more likely to pick up parasites.

But that’s the point – the parasites are present in the living animal. This is how you get trichinosis from pigs, for instance. Cooking kills the parasites.

One of my mother’s bosses got liver flukes from sushi-sashimi. In Japan, no less.

Can you provide a cite besides that one? This just seems like one of the many “facts” not based in reality or research.

IIRC from Anthropology 101, the Australopithicenes and Hominids that had bigger and/or tougher teeth needed them for a diet of coarse plants, not meat. Fire can be dated to Homo Habilis at the latest. Core tools used for skinning, and cutting have been found. Raw meat could have been tenderized by any convenient stone. Why make your cheeks sore chewing the stuff when you can soften it with a rock?