What did early humans eat before inventing tools?

I was thinking about how the only thing that really gives us an advantage over other animals is our bipedalism + fancy brains, allowing us to build/make shit out of other shit.

But completely unarmed, even a very fit and strong human is a pretty inept predator versus nearly any kind of wild game. So did early humans eat like, bugs and frogs, or what? Were they herbivorous, eating berries and grass and shit? Or are tools as old as humans are, and they were using them to hunt right out of the gate? Basically what I’m asking is was there anything before the “hunter-gatherer” - perhaps just bug-eating-gatherers?

I’m not an expert, but I don’t think there were any tool-less humans. Tool use appears to be as old as the genus Homo. Before that, it looks like the diet would have been similar to other great apes: plants and insects or other small animals.

Proto-humans probably also scavenged predator kills and ate not-too-old carrion when they could. If they were on the sea shore there might have been things exposed at low tide they could eat.

You can catch a lot of prey even without tools - especially if you factor going after sick and injured prey. As an untrained urban kid, I could catch a lot of fresh and salt water-dwelling critters by hand, including fish, crayfish, frogs and crabs. I also caught my share of lizards on land. I’m sure someone who’s life depended on it could do much better than I could. Ducks and geese wouldn’t be all that hard to sneak up on, I think.

There is a leading train of thought that early humans did a lot of hunting by exhausting their prey. So you keep a cow running until it collapses from exhaustion.

There’s evidence that humans would chase large prey off of cliffs, which requires no tools.

Of course, I would back all the way up to the premise of the question. Were there any humans who didn’t use tools? Even chimps use simple tools in nature, and proto-humans were making stone knives. There’s reason to believe our shoulder joints are extensively shaped by the need to throw projectiles accurately. I think a human who doesn’t use tools isn’t a human.

I’m confused. When did humans start eating tools?

I kind of agree with you there. Tool use is as much a part of us as claws and teeth are to a big cat.

Just a note; the uncertainty is about whether early humans did this (and perhaps if it was tied to the rise of bipedalism), not whether it’s done at all. *Current *humans still hunt this way:

Well that and the fact that we are impressively strong for our size, and astonishingly fast and have an ability to grapple and lift that is only shared by apes and endurance running abilities that will equal any animal on the planet and sight that is as good as anything in the world and…

I assume this is a joke. A human is perfectly effective against any animal up to half our size, and can take down most herbivores up to our own size with minimal difficulty. If they can be caught, small prey such as cats or rabbits take no effort at all to kill. Simply grab them and swing them into the ground as hard as possible. That will stun them. Then repeat until they are dead. It’s essentially risk free and doesn’t even take any training to do effectively. This is the standard human method pf capturing animals such as possums or rabbits that have taken refuge in hollow logs or tree stumps.

Larger herbivores such as goats or deer can be physically knocked over relatively easily, allowing a human to harass them to exhaustion quite effectively. Combined with our astonishing running abilities, an unarmed human would be quite effective at hunting animals such as the smaller deer. So in that sense we are about on par with the dogs. Most dogs won’t singly attack prey that is more than about half their own size.

What do you mean early humans? Bugs and frogs are a normal part of the human diet over large parts of the planet right now.

Well, once again berries are a normal part of the human diet worldwide right now.

Humans can’t digest grass, so no, of course humans never ate grass.

And with the exception of really expensive coffee and German porn, humans do not eat shit.

Since chimpanzees use tools to hunt, I think we can safely conclude that our common ancestors all used tools to hunt.

No. Even chimpanzees engage in regular hunts of large game animals such as monkeys and gazelles. So it’s safe to say that all our ancestor back to the last common ancestor with chimps also engaged in regular hunts against large game.

You just have to look for them

Even if they didn’t need tools for hunting big animals, they must have had the necessary tools for butchering them or at least cutting the hide to get at the meat. I’d guess that the hunting of large prey came after they had the tools to deal with the carcass.

Lots of animals see better than we do. I’d also argue that we’re not “astonishingly fast” - we do well at endurance running, yes, but our sprinting isn’t all that awesome. Trust me, I’ve run with my dog. Or, well, I run, he walks fast.

You’re clearly never watched Survivor. A chicken can outsmart two lawyers, a gay hairdresser, and three pharmaceutical sales reps in bikinis all running after it with a machete and a fishing net.

Of course, remember that when we’re talking early man we’re not talking domesticated animals. Try that shit on an aurochs, why don’t you?

Our primate cousins are a good indication. And if you hadn’t wasted your youth on learning how to program a VCR, but trained and trained at hunting with your tribe of tool-less proto-humans, you wouldn’t be an inept hunter, even with today’s physiology.

There is no such thing as a tool-less human. Our early Australopithecine ancestors used tools before they could be called human. An Australophithecine like Lucy had the cranial capacity of a chimpanzee, despite being bipidel and with hominid-like teeth. Bipedalism and tool use and hominid dentition happened long before our brains got bigger.

So imagine a creature with a brain very similar to a chimp, who ate similar things to a chimp, except used sticks and rocks a lot more. Chimps hunt monkeys and other medium sized animals, our early ancestors did the same except they threw rocks and hit things with sticks. And they likely more frequently used hands and tools to prepare food for eating where a chimp would use their front teeth.

I’ve often wondered about this. I accept that early humans were able to run game until they dropped from exaustion. Maybe they crushed the animal’s skull with a rock to be sure it was dead - then what? I am trying to imagine an early human with a just killed antelope and his next move. Maybe they just took a bite including the fur and went from there? I am sure there are parts of the animal that are more thinly skinned that could be opened without the use of sharp tools.

You’ll note that predators often start with the soft belly. Birds start with the eyes.

You don’t need a very sharp tool to rip a hole in the skin. And then you use your hands to pull the skin apart. It isn’t hard unless you just killed a rhinocerous. A broken rock is plenty sharp enough, or a sharp stick. Or you could use your teeth to bite open a small incision, then use your fingers for the rest. You probably didn’t eat the hide unless you were starving.

Or you could do like wild dogs and start at the anus…

Talk about your childhood wishes …