What did humans eat first – fish or meat?


Humans, like you and me, have existed on Earth for about 200,000 years. We are a species of animal called Homo sapiens, which means ‘wise man’. And just like all animals, we have to eat and drink in order to stay alive.

But what did the first humans eat?

It’s hard for us to know for sure exactly what humans were eating thousands of years ago because we weren’t there! But we do have some ideas based on fossilised remains that scientists have found. So let’s find out more about the early humans’ diet…

In the Stone Age (from about 3 million years ago to a few thousand years ago) humans were hunter-gatherers. This means they ate things they could find in the places where they lived. So, the very first humans would have eaten fruits and berries or perhaps eggs and honey too if they could find some.

We think that humans started to eat meat about 2.5 million years ago because we have found bones with cut marks on them and fragments of old tools that could have been used to make those cut marks. Scientists think that these are good clues to tell us when humans first learned how to hunt animals and turn the meat into something good to eat.

And scientists think that humans might have started eating fish about 40,000 years ago, based on more clues from skeletons found in Asia. These skeletons tell us that some people who were alive 40,000 years ago were eating fish as a regular part of their diet.

So, it seems that early humans started eating meat before they started eating fish. We’re not sure but it seems likely that this is because it was easier to hunt animals on the land than to catch fish in the water. The tools and clues that scientists have found make this seem like the right answer.

We know that humans didn’t learn how to be farmers until about 15,000 to 10,000 years ago, when they started growing plants to eat and keeping animals for food, milk and to help with jobs. If you’re interested to find out more about how humans became farmers, have a look at this web-page about how farming got started.


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