CARTA Glossary

Displaying 1 - 32 of 32 defined words for "The Role of Hunting in Anthropogeny". To see all CARTA defined words, please view the complete glossary.

Word Definition
"Mating Success" Hypothesis

In relation to hunting, a hypothesis that has been documented or proposed for humans, some earlier hominins, and chimpanzees that the tactical sharing of meat develops and maintains social bonds and/or increases mating success. In humans, this success is possibly amplified by an individual’s prowess or reputation.

12C/13C Isotope Ratio

12C/13C Isotope Ratio: Due to their different photosynthetic pathways, C3 and C4 plants have different ratios of 12C and 13C isotopes in their tissues. This ratio difference allows researchers to derive diet information from the fossilized tissue of animals, including human ancestors. Isotope ratios indicative of C3 plants suggest browsing from foliage while C4 isotope ratios suggest grazing.

Please note: this information does not differentiate between a diet of eating C3 and C4 plants, eating the meat of an animal that consumed those plants, or a combination of the two.

Acheulean (Mode 2) Tools

A stone tool type characterized by oval or pear-shaped bi-faced “hand-axes” and are typically associated with Homo erectus. ~1.76 mya -130 kya.

Aurignacian (Mode 4)

A stone tool type characterized by long, fine blades produced from a prepared cone (Levallois Technique). Tools of this mode also include worked bone and antler points. ~43 kya - 28 kya.

Bonobo (Pan paniscus)

One of the two species comprising the genus, Pan, having branched from chimpanzees ~1 million years ago. Sometimes referred to as “pygmy chimpanzee.” Bonobos, compared to chimpanzees, are more gracile, have female social dominance, relatively long legs, pink lips, a dark face, a “tail-tuft” through adulthood, and parted long head hair. The species is omnivorous and inhabits primary and secondary forests, including seasonally inundated swamp forests.The bonobo is found in a 500,000 km2 (190,000 sq mi) area of the Congo Basin, only south of the Congo River, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Due to political instability, little field work in their natural habitat has been performed. Most behavioral knowledge is a result of studies of captive bonobos.

C3 Plants

C3 Plants: Plants that only use the Calvin-Benson Cycle for fixing CO2 from the air. Photosynthesis in these plants involves the reaction of CO2 with C5 RuBP (ribulose-1,5-biphosphate) to form two C3 phosphoglyceric acid molecules (3PGA) in the Calvin Cycle, making hexose carbohydrates. C3 plants originated during the Mesozoic and Paleozoic eras, predating C4 plants. C3 plants thrive in moderate sunlight and temperature environments. The 12C/13C ratio of C3 plants is unique and can be determined from mass spectrometry. C3 plants have more 12C compared to C4 Plants, and have less 13C in their tissue compared to what naturally occurs in the atmosphere. e.g. Herbaceous plants, cool season grasses, tree leaves, flowers, stems, and fruits.

C4 Plants

C4 Plants: Plants that use a supplementary method of CO2 uptake to form a four-carbon sugar compound. Photosynthesis in these plants involves the reaction of CO2 with C3 phosphoenolpyruvate (PEP) to form C4 oxaloacetatic acid (OAA), which is converted into malic acid. Malic acid is then broken down into CO2 (which enters the Calvin Cycle to form sugars and starch) and pyruvic acid (3-carbon molecule), which is then converted back to PEP. C4 plants are well adapted for habitats with high daytime temperatures and intense sunlight. The 12C/13C ratio of C4 plants is distinct and can be determined from masspectrometry. C4 plants have less 12C but more 13C compared to C3 Plants. The 13C in C4 tissue is still less than what naturally occurs in the atmosphere. e.g. Tropical grasses, including crabgrass, corn, sugarcane, sorghum.

Calvin-Benson Cycle

The set of chemical reactions that take place in chloroplasts of plants during photosynthesis. This light-independent process converts carbon atoms from the atmosphere into three-carbon sugars.


An organism that derives its energy and nutrient requirements from a diet consisting mainly or exclusively of animal tissue, whether through predation or scavenging.

Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes)

One of the two species comprising the genus, Pan, having branched from bonobos ~1 million years ago. Sometimes referred to as “common chimpanzees”. Native to sub-Saharan Africa, chimpanzees are found in and around the Congo Basin (north of the Congo River) and throughout West Africa. Chimpanzees are divided into four subspecies, based on appearance and distribution. Compared to bonobos, chimpanzees are somewhat larger, more aggressive, and exhibit male social dominance.


The interaction of organisms with their physical environment, along with other organisms.

Fatty Acid

A molecule composed of a long chain of lipid-carboxylic acid, which is either saturated (single bonds between the components of the fatty acid chain) or unsaturated (at least one double bond within the fatty acid chain).


Searching for wild food or provisions as opposed to cultivating food crops or keeping livestock.


A number of species of prosimians that are small, nocturnal, and native to continental Africa. Also known as bushbabies. Galagos often nest in tree hollows during the day. Chimpanzees have been observed hunting with “spears” for nested galagos, and they are also hunted by Hadza hunter-gatherers.


A human living in a society in which most or all food is obtained by foraging (collecting wild plants and pursuing wild animals), in contrast to agricultural societies, which rely mainly on domesticated species.

Given the higher contribution from gathering, perhaps they should be called Gatherer-Hunters.


Each of two or more forms of the same element that contain equal numbers of protons but different numbers of neutrons in their nuclei, and hence differ in relative atomic mass but not in chemical properties; in particular, a radioactive form of an element.

Isotopic Signature

The ratio of non-radiogenic “stable isotopes,” stable radiogenic isotopes, or unstable radioactive isotopes of particular elements in an investigated material.


A substance required in relatively large amounts by living organisms: Fats, proteins, carbohydrates in an animal diet or chemical elements such as potassium, magnesium, calcium as required by plants.


The soft fatty substance in the cavities of bones that produces red and white blood cells and platelets.


A chemical element or substance required in trace amounts for the normal growth and development of living organisms that the organism cannot synthesize itself. 

Mousterian (Mode 3)

A stone tool type characterized by hand-axes, scrapers, triangle points, and denticulates produced using a prepared core (Levallois Technique) and is most associated with Neanderthals. ~315 kya to 30 kya


Excessive body fat that increases the risk of health problems. Defined as a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30.0 or higher.

Oldowan (Type 1) Tools

A stone tool characterized by simple “choppers” for pounding, breaking, and bashing. ~2.6 mya - 1.7 mya. 


An organism that derives its energy and nutrient requirements from a diet of plant, animal, and fungal origin.

Pair bonding

Forming a close relationship with another individual through courtship and sexual activity.


A group of primates that includes all living and extinct galagos, lemurs, lorises, and tarsiers. They are considered to have characteristics that are more “primitive” (ancestral) than those of monkeys, apes, and humans.

Savanna-Woodland Mosaic

A transitory ecotone between the tropical moist broadleaf forests of Equatorial Africa and the drier savannas and open woodlands to the north and south of the forest belt. The forest-savanna mosaic consists of drier forests, often gallery forest, interspersed with savannas and open grasslands.


Organisms that search for and feed on carrion, dead plant material, or refuse.

Social Bond

The degree to which an individual is integrated into the society, or ‘the social’. Social bond is the binding ties or social bonding to the family. Social bond also includes social bonding to the school, to the workplace and to the community.

Stable Isotope

 Isotopes that do not decay into other elements.  These isotopes, found in biological material, including fossils, and can be used to study paleo-diet and ecology.


A plant storage molecule in the form of a polysaccharide. Starch is obtained chiefly from cereals, tubers, and potatoes. It is an important constituent of the human diet due to its digestibility, unlike many other polysaccharides, such as plant cellulose, pectins, and xylans (polyxylose).

Type 2 Diabetes (Adult On-Set)

A chronic metabolic disorder that affects the way the body processes blood sugar (glucose). It is characterized by high blood sugar, insulin resistance, and relative lack of insulin and primarily occurs as a result of obesity and lack of exercise.