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Are Humans Both Omnivores and Scavengers?

Posted Jun 26, '13 at 1:19am



9,662 posts


Definition of Omnivore: consummation of both plant and animal matter such that the body is not physiologically-damaged by it.

Definition of Scavenger: An organism that feeds on dead organic matter.

Being a Biology student in a State University, I have access to the entire Biology department's doctors at my will (muahahaha!) should I ever have a curious...err, inquiry. Quite a few of them classify the species Homo sapiens as both Omnivores and Scavengers, and they attribute it to modern society. Most of the people on the planet live such that they obtain their food from different branches of society--they prepare and package the food for us and we, in turn, cook and eat it. In fact, it is because most of us are so dependent upon private organizations to prepare food for us that Tyson and Monsanto have billions of dollars of revenue and stock. Because people of this population have the meat (in particular) prepared and packaged dead (thank the lords and ladies this remains true), quite a few doctors are insistent upon further classifying us as both omnivores and scavengers.

The select few that hunt, catch, and grow their own food do not get this extra classification, albeit they're not completely free from dependency on private organizations sometimes.

Quid tu in foro narro, WERP'ers?


Posted Jun 26, '13 at 2:22am



5,746 posts

I don't think that's accurate at all. If we're just going by who does what, then it's not a species thing at all. It's cultural, so let the anthropologists decide. That we're omnivores is inarguable - scavenging is a behavior, not biological. You would define it primarily upon what the majority of the species does, but we 'became' this way due to agriculture and technological development.

In short, I wouldn't classify the species homo sapiens as scavengers. We've played every role out there at one time or another and still do.


Posted Jun 26, '13 at 2:39am



5,790 posts


There is no true scavenger and no true predator. Carnivores usually show both behaviours to different extents. But we are not carnivores, we are omnivores.

Insofar I agree with Kasic that scavenging is more of a behaviour thing. In the behavioural aspect, our ancestors and some tribes today are/were hunter-gatherers. How about the modern human? We don't eat carrion. We eat fresh/conserved meat. We are indeed dependent on others to get our food, but so are the villagers in the tribes dependent on the hunters to get their meat. Human society as a whole still gets the emat from killed animals, not carrion.

It's an interesting question, but I don't see enough reasons to call us scavengers.


Posted Jun 27, '13 at 2:19am



9,475 posts

Under those definitions, sure. But when someone says "scavenger", I think of the things that take what they can from whatever's left, like vultures. Sure, some people do that, like those who collect roadkill, but I consider that chain of prepared food more akin to wolves providing food for other wolves, as the kill was within the same species and there's a social construct to it instead of a free for all.


Posted Jul 2, '13 at 5:26pm



151 posts

There is no true scavenger and no true predator.

To your point, when I think of scavengers, I think of vultures. But this article talks about vultures in france that have become predatory due to environmental circumstances. Evidence that eating habits (ie vegan, vegetarian, carnivore, omnifore, etc) are influenced by context as well as biology. If you don't adapt to what is available to eat (or in the case of humans, what you want to eat or what is socially acceptable) you will become sick, weak, and/or die.
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