Scientists have concluded that the interactions that human have kept for millennia with scavengers like vultures, hyenas and lions, have been crucial in the evolution and welfare of humankind. The results of the study note that the extinction of large carnivorous mammals threatens to wipe out the many services that they provide us.
The study, led by researchers from the area of Ecology, Department of Applied Biology UMH Marcos Moleón and Jose Antonio Sanchez Zapata, is based on a review of recent arguments that have been published in scientific journals and offers a unique perspective human evolution, from the origin of the first hominid about two million years ago, to the emergence and development of modern man.
“The way that humans have acquired meat, since it became a fundamental component of our diet has changed since the consumption of dead animals hunting live animals, the domestication of wild animals and finally intensive exploitation pet, “explain the researchers in the study. “In each of these periods, humans have been closely related to other scavengers. At first, the interaction was primarily competitive, but when humans went from eating carrion to generate it, the scavengers highly benefit from the relationship is viewed. In addition, today we are human we benefit from the multiple ecosystem services provided by scavengers. “
However, the study concludes that “the current process of extinction and depletion of vultures and large carnivorous mammals in large regions of the planet seriously threatens to wipe out the many services that current and future human could benefit. Therefore, the continuity of these scavengers among us is not only important for maintaining the planet’s biodiversity, but also in the face of our own being and our ecological and evolutionary identity. “
The human implications of ancestral and changing relationship between humans and scavengers are manifold. According to the researchers, the study shows that “the benefits to humans ranging from the provision of food, as carrion were more easily found if other scavengers were present in them, to the control of infectious diseases (due to the elimination of animal remains in the vicinity of human settlements) through catalysis of cultural diversity, for example, through the need to improve the early stone tools to be competitively successful. “
Furthermore, this work indicates that “the two most distinctive human attributes, language development and cooperative partnership, were probably the result of selective pressures associated with consumption of carrion primeval.”
Reference: M. Moleon, J. A. Sanchez-Zapata, A. Margalida, M. Carrete, N. Owen-Smith, J. A. Donazar. Humans and Scavengers: The Evolution of Interactions and Ecosystem Services. BioScience, 2014; 64 (5): 394 DOI: 10.1093/biosci/biu034