PerspectiveEcology

A most unusual (super)predator

Science  21 Aug 2015:
Vol. 349, Issue 6250, pp. 784-785
DOI: 10.1126/science.aac8697

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Summary

Modern humans evolved as cooperative hunter-gatherers whose cultural and technological evolution enabled them to slay prey much larger than themselves, across many species groups. One might think that those hunting skills have faded since the advent of agriculture and animal husbandry almost 10,000 years ago. Yet, as Darimont et al. show in a global analysis on page 858 of this issue (1), we are still the unique superpredator that we evolved to be. Analyzing an extensive database of 2135 exploited wild animal populations, the authors find that humans take up to 14 times as much adult prey biomass as do other predators. Our trophic dominance is most pronounced outside our own habitat, in the oceans (see the chart).