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  1. Jul 2022
    1. Prof. Meiri: "Our study tracked changes at a much higher resolution over a considerably longer period of time compared to previous research. The results were illuminating: we found a continual, and very significant, decline in the size of animals hunted by humans over 1.5 million years. For example, a third of the bones left behind by Homo erectus at sites dated to about a million years ago, belonged to elephants that weighed up to 13 tons (more than twice the weight of the modern African elephant) and provided humans with 90% of their food. The mean weight of all animals hunted by humans at that time was 3 tons, and elephant bones were found at nearly all sites up to 500,000 years ago. "Starting about 400,000 years ago, the humans who lived in our region -- early ancestors of the Neandertals and Homo sapiens, appear to have hunted mainly deer, along with some larger animals weighing almost a ton, such as wild cattle and horses. Finally, in sites inhabited by modern humans, from about 50,000 to 10,000 years ago, approximately 70% of the bones belong to gazelles -- an animal that weighs no more than 20-30kg. Other remains found at these later sites came mostly from fallow deer (about 20%), as well as smaller animals such as hares and turtles."

      Progression of body mass over the last 1.5 million years in the Southern Levant: 1) Up to 500,000 years ago 1/3 of bones left behind at Homo Erectus sites belonged to 13 ton elephants that provided 90% of the food. Mean weight of all hunted animals at the time was 3 tons 2) Up to 400,000 years ago, early Neandertals and Homo Sapiens only hunted mainly deer and animals like wild cattle and horse that weighed no more than 1 ton. 3) From 50,000 to 10,000 years ago, 70^ of bones at modern human sites belonged to gazelles weighing between 20 and 30 kg, as well as fallow deer and hares and turtles.