The general sense of "search diligently" (for anything) is first recorded c. The oldest undisputed evidence for hunting dates to the Early Pleistocene, consistent with the emergence and early dispersal of Homo erectus, about 1.7 million years ago (Acheulean).
While it is undisputed that Homo erectus were hunters, the importance of this for the emergence Homo erectus from its australopithecine ancestors, including the production of stone tools and eventually the control of fire, are emphasised in the so-called "hunting hypothesis" and de-emphasised in scenarios that stress omnivory and social interaction.
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The verb, Old English huntian "to chase game" (transitive and intransitive), perhaps developed from hunta "hunter," is related to hentan "to seize," from Proto-Germanic huntojan (the source also of Gothic hinþan "to seize, capture," Old High German hunda "booty"), which is of uncertain origin. It pre-dates the emergence of Homo sapiens (anatomically modern humans) and may even predate genus Homo.
There is no direct evidence for hunting predating Homo erectus, in either Homo habilis or in Australopithecus.
The early hominid ancestors of humans were probably frugivores or omnivores, with a partially carnivore diet from scavenging rather than hunting.
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