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Smithsonian blog: “Humans, the Honey Hunters” Honey-the fuel for hominid evolution?
Evolutionists have “suggested that the evolution of larger hominin brains, which are metabolically expensive, would have required the consumption of energy-rich foods to fuel the expansion.”1 Nutritional anthropologist Alyssa Crittenden, in a study published in the journal Food and Foodways, proposes the super fuel our supposed human ancestors used to grow bigger, better brains was honey. She bases her conclusions on present-day cultural observations, “ancient rock painting,” and inferences from “our primate cousins.”
Wild honey is a highly nutritious, easily digestible, energy-dense food packed with vitamins, minerals, and even some protein and fat from bits of bee larvae. Honey forms a staple part of the diet of many third-world tribal populations today. Crittenden does not propose honey as a sole food but as a high-energy nutritious supplement to meat and edible plants and tubers. Simple tools, a reasonable amount of ingenuity, and smoke from fire make honey gathering feasible, although fire is not essential. Rock art from Africa, Europe, Asia, and Australia conventionally dated at 40,000 years depicts people gathering honey.
“It is highly likely that early hominids were at least as capable of honey collection.”
In order to push honey history back beyond modern humans to the time human ancestors like Homo habilis presumably evolved, Crittenden makes reference to the habits of “non-human primates.” Baboons, macaques, gorillas, orangutans, and chimpanzees all manage to get at the sweet treat using a variety of methods, sometimes using sticks as tools. She writes, “Studies of chimpanzee tool use and diet composition are useful in models of early hominin behavior, not only because of their phylogenetic proximity to humans, but also because of their behavioural and anatomical similarities to our species.”2 She adds, “It is highly likely that early hominids were at least as capable of honey collection” and points out that earliest humans could have used sticks or Oldowan stone tools to get at the sweet liquid. Oldowan tools are generally associated with smaller-brained Homo habilis, presumed by some evolutionists to be the earliest human.
Biblically, we know the first humans were Adam and Eve, created mature and intelligent by God about 6,000 years ago. We do not know how much time passed before people began enjoying honey as a food, but in Genesis 43:11 Jacob includes honey in his list of the best fruits of the land. Humans did not evolve from ape-like ancestors. The ability of apes and monkeys to get at honey tells us nothing about early human abilities.
Furthermore, early humans were not primitive brutes. Anthropologists assume the tools they deem most primitive must have been made by an intellectually inferior transitional brute. And there is no proof that Homo habilis made Oldowan tools. Homo habilis is a poorly defined, fragmentary assemblage of fossils. As News to Note, August 27, 2011, Nailing Jello (Jelly) to the Wall, and Baraminological Analysis Places Homo habilis, Homo rudolfensis, and Australopithecus sediba in the Human Holobaramin: Discussion explain, Homo habilis may be only an ape. Arbitrarily designating those fragments Homo doesn’t make them an ape-man. God made both apes and humans as separate creations on the sixth day of Creation week, and only humans were made in the image of God. Apes clearly have smaller cranial size than humans, but human brain size has a wide range of normal and does not correlate with intellectual capacity.
Crittenden’s idea that Oldowan tools were useful for honey harvesting is certainly reasonable, but whoever made the tools was human. There is no reason to assume they were made by transitional brutes needing honey to grow bigger brains. Biblically we know that no human of any cranial size evolved from apelike ancestors.
Thus, biblically speaking, Crittenden is correct that people, and probably apes too, have been eating nutritious honey for thousands of years—but not as many thousands as she thinks, and certainly not for millions! And no matter how nutritious honey is, ancestral brutes didn’t need it to become fully human. Humans have been fully human since God breathed life into Adam.
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Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ effectively. We focus on providing answers to questions about the Bible—particularly the book of Genesis—regarding key issues such as creation, evolution, science, and the age of the earth.