How Becoming Carnivores Changed the Evolution of Humans

How did meat eating begin?

Meat eating has been said to go as far back as 2.5 million years for humans. Fossils of tools used to butcher meat are found to have gone back that far. It is believed that we started eating meat because of the competition for food between other species. Craig B. Stanford points to an example of this in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. This forest is the only forest where mountain gorillas and chimps live together. Chimps eat meat while Gorillas don’t meaning that they can coexist together because they have two different diets.

 How meat eating affected the evolution of humans

Long ago when humans started to eat meat it triggered tons of evolutionary changes. For one thing, our jaws have gotten smaller so we can chew meat better. And because of our diets being chocked full of meat we have evolved to have an improved ability to process cholesterol and fat.  Also, scientist say that eating meat helped our brains to grow bigger and our figure slimmer. All these positives from meat though did not happen until we started cooking meat. To get the caloric energy you get from meat you have to cook it. So we really didn’t start reaping the benefits of meat until we discovered fire.

Being a meat eater isn't all positive

But everything that has evolved from meat eating was not good. Because our jaws are downsized are teeth cannot fit inside. So it’s rare to find someone who has perfectly straight teeth that did not have any dental work on them. Also us evolving to cooking and using forks and knives has made out big teeth useless because our food is so soft. 


Mayell, H. (2005, February 18). "evolving to eat mush": how meat changed our bodies. Retrieved from

Joyce, C. (Producer). (2010, August 2). Food for thought: meat-based diet made us smarter [Audio Podcast]. NPR Series: The Human Edge. Retrieved from

This picture from left is of castings of teeth from a chimpanzee, Australopithecus afarensis and a modern human