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The hunting hypothesis is the hypothesis that human evolution was primarily influenced by the activity of hunting, and that the activity of hunting distinguished human ancestors from other primates. It is contrasted to the gathering hypothesis.

Advocates of the hunting hypothesis tend to believe that tool use and toolmaking were an extremely important part of human evolution, as tools are essential to effective hunting.

Among the most famous books to advocate the hunting hypothesis was The Hunting Hypothesis by Robert Ardrey.

Opponents of vegetarianism sometimes use the hunting hypothesis to make the case that humans should eat meat. Vegetarians, however, either counter that the hunting hypothesis is wrong, or that, even if it were true, that it should have no effect on what modern humans eat.

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