Do Apes Eat Meat?

Not really. Chimps do, but chimps are the closest of all of the apes to humans.

The Hominid line is often to thought to be Homo only. Not so. Hominids include chimps (2 species), gorillas (2 species) and orangutans. Beyond  that, they’re all a bunch of monkeys, including gibbons, who straddle the monkey-ape line. Which apes are closest to humans? Chimps. After that, gorillas. Then possibly orangutans.

However, none of these are in the Homo line. The Homo line at present includes only humans, and I would argue Bigfoots, yetis, etc.

All non-human apes are basically vegetarians. Chimps are mostly vegetarian, but they will eat meat once in a while. Gorillas are completely vegetarian. So are orangutans.

An interesting thing is the occipital ridge. That is the coned head on the top of a gorilla’s head. The occipital and nuccal ridge develops in order to support very strong jaw muscles. It’s not easy to eat plants all day long. You need strong jaw muscles. Try eating trees and bushes all day and you will see what I mean. Gorillas chomp plants all day, so the occipital ridge of coned head developed to support very strong jaw muscles.

2.4 million years ago, humans split from other apes and lost the occipital crest. This made it harder to eat plants all day and required better foraging skills. At this time, humans or Homo started eating a lot more meat and a lot less plants. The occipital ridge was lost because believe it or not, it’s easier to eat meat than it is to eat plants all day. The loss of the occipital ridge created increased space for brain development, as the occipital ridge takes up space where the brain should be with pure bone.

Humans were required to become better hunters, that it, to eat meat. In return, they lost their occipital crest, could not chomp bushes all day so well, and in return, gained brain size. Trade-off.

Some Homo continued to have a pronounced occipital crest, especially the Homo Erectus from Java, which has many folks wondering if it is even Homo or if it instead a “missing link” between Homo and the non-Homo hominids.

It’s not so easy to eat raw meat, hence, Homo developed fire. But leave that for another post.

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Filed under Animals, Anthropology, Apes, Bigfoot, Mammals, Wild

33 responses to “Do Apes Eat Meat?

  1. tulio

    Apes are mostly vegetarians I think because they are not naturally well-suited to hunting prey. They will eat easy to catch insects like ants and such. I think it comes down to primates not being particularly swift runners. Man only eats more meat because we are able to devise tools that allow us to catch it. If we took all technology away, even primitive technology like spears and traps, we’d hardly ever eat meat because we’d have a hell of a time catching it.

    • John

      Not necessarily. Our earliest ancestors used their hands to catch fish from rivers, low watered creeks and such. There is also research to suggest when the opportunity raised chimpanzees and gorillas alike woukd eat meat. So consider the latter part that the primate family really are complete vegetarians or vegans.

  2. Equalist

    Meat eating and hunting gave impetus to exploitation of men by women. The long development of human child, mother tied and father hunting far away led to evolution of control mechanisms to keep the man coming back and provide useful goods and services to his woman or women. And only women who were able to control men survived, and their babies.
    (Women control men with touching emotions, sex, babies and “Indians v. Indians” technique ie using men against men; before, she pointed her finger at a villager, now she calls police.)

  3. Fred Cline

    What would be the evolutionary-adaptive cause of a plant-eating creature losing the occipital ridge?

  4. Pingback: Raising Veggies - Is it wrong to bring your kids up vegetarian? Kate Toon | Discordia

  5. tyrone

    what a bunch of crap you wrote there. some facts, some things you just pulled out of your ass. worthless nonsense. fruit must be really hard for you to chew, right? no. actually not.

  6. Late to add this, but there is good evidence that gorillas probably do eat meat and there are videos of orangs eating meat.

  7. Sonjia Brown

    Chimpanzees eat meat, I saw a programme once where they killed another weaker chimp and ate it, Deep Throat I think it was called! ; )

  8. Teresa

    This is not technically true, there are not documentaries that have followed great apes for extended periods and find that they will eat many insects (pounds of them). Chimps and Orangutans both have been videotaped killinf and eating other apes. and gorillas, chimps and orangs have all be taped eating birds eggs. They have also proven that in captivity, where it is easier for them to trap and kill, they will eat meat.

  9. Johnny Lynn

    Just watching 2001 A Space Odyssey. Kubrick got it wrong.

  10. Jason Y

    Well, of course they do, silly. 😆 African Americans eat chitlins all the time.

  11. You know I would normally keep on scrolling but, for some reason I feel the need to reply. Articles such as these are the reason that children today are confused about the past history of humanity. I can give you a more simple version of human history “why we eat meat” and why we “have larger brains” and why for some reason above all else “we have free will”. You know unlike other animals on Earth humans chose how to live their lives everyday. You know there is a huge hole in evolution itself in that it only explains “human” evolution. Let me put this a little bit differently, if evolution were true and all animals evolved humans wouldn’t be the only ones to evolve over time I mean what made one species on Earth so much different than all the others right? What if all the species did evolve over time? We would discover more evolved relics than a person could count. In fact there would be thousands upon thousands of evolved relics to be found yet we struggle to find even one. I believe that the largest misconception of ancient mankind is that we were, at any one point, less intelligent than we are today. If you want to know why humans eat meat read Genesis Chapter 9 it will explain it all. After the great flood God said “Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you;even as the green herb have I given you all things.” It even goes on to explain how to prepare the meat for consumption. Humans have always had a large brain, fact is we use less now than when God created us. Einstein said “My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind.” I say believe what you want but if you want true answers read the BIBLE the living word of the LORD.

    • Zacduggan

      Albert Einstein was vegetarian though. I think meat was the most available food source for much of our evolution before large scale farming techniques. But the fact that all monkey species are basically vegetarian is pretty conclusive that our meat based diet is not sound

      • I would agree that meat was the most available food source, if not the only available food source in the ice age. Human’s ability to craft weapons allowed for hunting the mammoth. Also, as foragers we could only sustain a very small population. Get a few families together in a tribe and you need to start expanding your food sources. Then your population outgrows a supply of meat sustainable by hunting, so then comes the development of more advanced farming techniques and livestock.

    • No One

      I think the ‘idea’ that aliens came to earth thousands of years ago and created an ape-alien hybrid that grew to adults has just as much credence.

      I don’t understand people like you who believe science and religion are two opposite ends of the spectrum. Would it not make more sense God created living beings with the ability to evolve?

      And we find countless relics. Which, by your own words, would mean all species evolved over time? What else would you call dinosaur bones, mayan pyramids, etc. It’s not like everything that was ever built is perfectly preserved in some underground vault. Can’t pick and choose what we find…

      • The Sumerian theory is the most complete theory I’ve read, including any religion or science. But we can’t discount the possibility that that too is a fabricated story. And yes, we will never find the answer if we completely discount anything that any one belief or theory claims, because there’s likely some truth in each.

  12. Jm8

    Chimps and bonobos also eat some insects (but those and meat seem to make up a pretty small amount of their diets maybe from 5-10%, and it is mostly plants). I’m not sure whether the insect fraction is usually factored into in as “meat”(when those calculations are done). I think sometimes so. Apparently according to some sources orangutans are more herbivorous but sometimes may eat up to 5% insects (but not mammals or other meat like chimps and bonobos occasionally do.)

    Gorillas, are pretty much completely herbivorous.
    Some sources claim gibbon occasionally east insects, but it seems very little

    Humans (and some other hominids likely) are/were also adapted to eat more starch than other apes.

    It interesting that the sasquatch diet, at far as we know, is substantially omnivorous (consisting partly of plants and partly of animals including deer) but it still is said to have a coned head (though I would guess less so than a gorilla likely).

    One other thing that allowed the ancestors of humans to spend less time searching for food and masticating was cooking/fire which made certain nutrients in food more bioavailable. Is there evidence for sasquatch fire use or cooking?

  13. Jm8

    Also, I’ve started to wonder sasquatch is a hominid (descended from erectus) or perhaps a bit more distant, since their feet are said to lack arches—as I believe the footprints indicate (and their anatomy designed to accommodate this) whereas some of the earliest bipedal human ancestors/proto hominids have arches (australopithecus has arches, but I’m not sure about ardipithecus, the first known bipedal human ancestor before australopithecus.) Some like bigfoot researchers believe their bipedalism evolved independently of ours (if our first bipedal ancestors lacked arches, that might support the idea)

    Some (like Meldrum) believe sasquatch to be a gigantopithecus descendant (whose closest relative was the orangutan).

    But it could have also evolved bipedalism separately (assuming it did) and still possibly come from a closer lineage to humans (more of the chimp/gorilla lineage or even a very early ardipithecus-like pre-hominid or ardipithecus descendant) if it came from a very early migration from Africa of that kind of ape of the aforementioned (chimp/gorilla lineage) group (with no known living descendants in Asia) closer to humans than orangutans are.

    In either case it might have also have evolved some of its intelligence independently of the direct ancestors of humans (depending on how distant our shared ancestor was, especially if it was pre-erectus), since the evidence I am aware of indicates that it’s at least smarter (and according to some reports and evidence quite a lot smarter) than any current living apes (other than man that is).

    According to this link, ardipithecus (but not australopithecus) feet did lack arches (which might have come after initial bipedalism in our line and made it more efficient/effective):

    • Jm8

      I meant:
      * “Also, I’ve started to wonder whether sasquatch is a hominid…or…”

    • Whoa you really believe in sasquatch? That’s crazy, bro!

      • Jm8

        To GondwanaMan:
        (if your post is to me:)
        Re: sasquatch: I’m pretty agnostic on the issue. I think it’s possible. There’s some intriguing evidence, but as far as I know it’s fairly ambiguous (I was speaking under the speculative assumption that it did/might exist).

        • Jm8

          It (and similar areas of speculation) also appeals to my interest in hominid evolution (and primate evolution—and the evolution of intelligence in animals)—at least as a hypothesis or speculation for the sake of argument. I will be interested to whatever evidence comes in the future and if it is ever confirmed (or possibly the reverse)—I am rather curious if there’s anything to it (some claim it might have existed in Asia and America and gone extinct, which tends to go with the gigantopithecus—which did exist—theory. As and anecdote; I have friend (from South Carolina) who claimed to have seen one (can’t say myself what it might have been for sure of course, not having been there there). He described it as mostly hairless (or sparser haired) on,arround the upper face (above the mid face), kind of like an ape.

        • Jm8

          “I think it’s possible. There’s some intriguing evidence (like certain vocalization recordings, footprints with dermal ridges, the Patterson-Gimlin film, etc).”

          “It (and similar areas of speculation—like the possibility of relict homo floresiensis/”orang pendek” in a remote part of S. E. Asia or the Almasty) also appeals to my interest in hominid evolution…”

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