Today many Americans are struggling to understand the concept of “edible insects”. Of course, for most people in the world, eating insects is no big deal. Many modern cultures embrace insects as a culinary delight. Obviously, edible insects are considered the norm in most regions of the world because the practice of eating insects has existed in foreign cultures for many generations. It can be hard pinpointing the time in history when past cultures started to treat insects like food. It must have taken people a good long while to ascertain which insects were safe to eat and which were not. Determining which insects tasted the best and how to properly cook each insect species would also have entailed a long process of trial and error. So when did people start to eat insects? This question is difficult to accurately address since people have probably been eating insects for as long as humans have existed. In any case, new research has demonstrated that our hominid ancestors consumed insects millions of years ago. In fact, early hominids kept a diet that was mostly made up of insects. What is perhaps most surprising about this new research is the revelation that our ancestors preferred to eat termite nests most of all.


It has traditionally been assumed that early human ancestors survived on a diet made up of mammal meats, leaves and nuts. However, this common assumption is now being challenged by new research that suggests early human ancestors survived on a diet consisting mostly of insects, specifically termite nests. Evidence of insect consumption among hominids dates back nearly two million years. This discovery came as a happy accident to researchers who were investigating strange-looking mud formations in Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania. The dried mud formations turned out to be fossilized termite nests. Researchers compared the carbon signatures on the ancient nests with the carbon signatures on hominid teeth found buried nearby. One of the researchers, Dr. Julie Lesnik from the department of Anthropology at Wayne State University, claims that the hominids existing in the Olduvai region millions of years ago lived alongside a particular termite species that is still the most desirable edible termite today. This research indicates that the practice of insect consumption is inherent in human nature.


Since modern humans did not exist until around two hundred thousand years ago, do you think that it is dubious to assume that humans and their ancestors shared the same diets?