How They Survived
The tall bodies and large brains of Homo erectus individuals required a lot of energy on a regular basis to function. Eating meat and other types of protein that could be quickly digested made it possible to absorb nutrients with a shorter digestive tract, making more energy available faster. There is also speculation that honey and underground tubers may have been significant food sources for Homo erectus.
Soon after we see evidence in the fossil record of the earliest Homo erectus fossils (by about 1.9 million years ago), we see evidence in the archeological record for the first major innovation in stone tool technology (by about 1.76 million years ago). Known as the Acheulean stone tool industry, it consisted of the creation of large cutting tools like hand axes and cleavers. Increased reliance on a broader set of tools may have helped Homo erectus survive during changing climates.
The earliest evidence of hearths (campfires) occur during the time range of Homo erectus. While we have evidence that hearths were used for cooking (and probably sharing) food, they are likely to have been places for social interaction, and also used for warmth and to keep away large predators.
- Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Human Origins Program: http://humanorigins.si.edu/evidence/human-fossils/species/homo-erectus
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