bird food is us

The only trouble, Jack, is that evolution has taught those damn birds that we're the food! Sure, sure. You can be complacent and think that we're bigger and smarter than the birds. However fossil evidence shows that this is just a short moment in the development of life on this planet.

Much more typical is when fellows like this guy to the right with the harsh gaze ate our ancestors for breakfast!

Sure, we like to deny that we're food but given the right circumstances, it's good night Gracie. You can kiss your butt goodbye 'cause that pack of ravens is going to dine well tonight.

Here's the article that has my mind all a twitter:

Eagles used to prey on our ancestors

By Ed Stoddard, Reuters
Thu Jan 12, 9:35 AM ET

The answer to a scientific "who-done-it?" has revealed a chilling fact: We used to be bird food.

Scientists announced on Thursday they had definitive proof that the "Taung child," a 2-million year old apeman skull famed as one of the most dramatic human evolutionary finds, was killed and eaten by an eagle.

"Birds used to eat us and in doing so they shaped our behavior," said Dr Lee Berger, a palaeoanthropologist at Johannesburg's University of the Witwatersrand.

"Birds of prey are one of the few things that some modern primates have special calls or alarms for," he told Reuters.

Berger said the child had probably been scooped up by an eagle and taken to its nest, where its eyes were ripped out for dinner. The child's skull eventually fell out of the nest, only to be found almost 2 million years later.

Placing us on the eagle's menu may also explain other aspects of human evolution, from walking upright, which could present a smaller target to an aerial attacker, to our tendency to live in groups.

"These birds would have been after the most vulnerable members of the group," Berger said, a scenario which may have triggered collective measures of protection.

This murder most foul occurred 2 million years ago but the culprit, an African crowned eagle -- also known as the crowned hawk-eagle -- still circles the skies and large eagles still prey on small primates in Africa.

OLD MYSTERY

Unearthed in South Africa in 1924, the Taung child shook the scientific world when Raymond Dart suggested in 1925 that it was a higher form of primate which he dubbed Australopithecus africanus, or "man-ape of southern Africa."

Few in the scientific establishment were willing to accept then what has since become conventional wisdom: that humanity evolved in Africa.

For decades it was believed that the famous Taung child had been slain by a leopard or a saber-toothed cat.

But 10 years ago Berger and a colleague suggested that the child, who was about 3 or 4 years old when it died, was killed by a large bird of prey.

This remained an educated guess until researchers at Ohio State University submitted a paper on primate remains from African crowned eagle kills which Berger was asked to review.

The scientists found several key features of bone damage which distinguished birds of prey kills from those of big cats.

"These critical clues were puncture marks in the base of the eye sockets of primates, made when the eagles ripped the eyes out of the dead monkeys with their sharp talons and beaks. It was a marker that others hadn't noted before, that linked eagles definitively to the kill," Berger said.

Intrigued, Berger re-examined the Taung child skull, which is perhaps the most analyzed hominid fossil in the world.

"I almost dropped down when I looked into the eyes of the skull as I saw the marks... they were perfect examples of eagle damage. Thousands of scientists, including myself, had overlooked this critical damage," Berger said.

"It just shows that you can never stop looking. Just because something has been studied for years doesn't mean that it can't still tell us new things," Berger said.

Comments

Teresa said…
Are we replacing pesky bugs with birds now?

I'll probably actually read this one later, but for now I can't seem to get myself to do it.
Diane Mandy said…
Like an Alfred Hitchcock movie... and yet another reason I don't own pets.
Lisa said…
I had a parakeet once. When I was 12. That thing hated me. Used to look at me really funny.... I used to wonder what it was thinking. Now I know it was wondering how I'd taste with ketchup.
Tara said…
I heard, years ago (sorry, can't remember source), a theory that the reason humans hate the sound of nails on a chalkboard is that we were once regularily eaten by birds and that was the sound a primitive bird of prey made.
Uisce said…
Mmm, eagle. I love then fried with tartar sauce. I know... I know... ketchup is probably better, but... Ewww, what am I saying? Barbecue sauce, definitely! :)
No_Newz said…
Maybe they were just getting people back for the bird brain insult. :)
I used to have an Umbrella like in that photo. I had to give him away because he tried to peck out my eyes. (or maybe he just chewed all of the wood in the house, I can't be sure)
Lois Lane
kenju said…
The latest scientific evidence is never really the "last word" on the subject, is it?

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