Before We Ruled the Earth: Hunt or be Hunted

Before We Ruled the Earth - Hunt or be Hunted1,700,000 years ago in Africa, Homo ergaster, an ancient predecessor of modern humans, had to scavenge to survive. They lived in the elements among the monsters of the day, like the saber-toothed cat. Over time, early humans evolved and developed simple tools, began to communicate, and learned to control their most important tool: fire.

But the monsters were still there. 300,000 years ago, Homo erectus learned to hunt the giant Irish elk, using fire to drive these great beasts through a narrow gorge and over a cliff. While hunting skills improved, proximity remained a necessity to kill a huge beast.

40,000 years ago, Neanderthals were at the top of their form, hunting beasts like the Giant Steppe Bison. The Neanderthals were usurped by an entirely new race of humans, the Cro-Magnons. They adapted and survived when the Neanderthals could not.

They would become the undisputed masters of our planet. They would become the humans we are today. (Excerpt from

Episodes included: 1. Hunt or Be Hunted, and 2. Mastering the Beast.

Watch the full documentary now (playlist - 1 hour, 38 minutes)

Ratings: 7.42/10 from 12 users.

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25 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Jason

    Is this video broken? or is it just me?

  2. Jenny

    I think so. The video doesn't work for me either.

  3. nicepicture

    still broken!

  4. Vlatko


  5. canag0d

    A below mediocre movie in a category saturated with this exact type of film. Focuses more on the individual daily lives of the hominids, and subjective stories of what may have happened rather then the evolution of the species and hard science. I question a lot of the facts as well, like they claim that 200 lb saber tooth tiger's or Smilodon were living alongside Homo-Ergaster. Unfortunately, the only 200 lb Smilodons lived in N.A. and S.A., while Homo-Ergaster only lived in Europe, Asia, and Africa where the Smilodons ranged between 400-1000 lbs. In some scenes they refer to homonids such as Homo-Ergaster as human, then in scenes moments later they make phrases like "it's unlikely these homonids felt many emotions, such as grief", so obviously they are not humans. Very inconsistent dialogue. Even a lot of the language the narrator uses is incorrect. In one example the narrator says the pack of humans is trying to "out flank the elks", which of course implies that the elk were flanking the group of homonids.

    Still this film is ok for someone who is not concerned with learning the exactly correct history, more of a general tale of what life was like back then. It would be good to show in a grade six classroom. The effects and story are done pretty well, and does provide some entertainment value.

    If your looking for a more scientific approach to this topic, this movie is not for you. However if your looking to just get a decent understanding of this period of time, this movie offers some value.


  6. canag0d

    In retrospect, even the title does not make sense. "Hunt or be hunted" does not make any sense. So if you hunt you will not be hunted??? Of course that is not true, and in one of the opening scenes the hominids are being hunted by a large cat, and that particular cat was then attack by an even larger cat. So the original was hunting, but he still was hunted, prooving the title false. It's just a name that sounds interesting and "buzz wordy" but really when you think about it, it makes no sense.

  7. wpsmithjr

    I'm not going to watch this doc, based on your comments. But...

    My question is, and I see this all the time... what makes people think that lower animal forms do not experience emotions like humans do?

    My cat gets angry at me and retaliates by taking a dump on my clothes. I'm sure if I ever disappeared, she would grieve as well.

    Where did this idea come from that "lower" life forms like animals don't feel emotions??

  8. Harris Sultan

    Are you serious with your comment here? "Hunt or be hunted' makes perfect sense. The example your giving proves the title is correct, the cat that hunted before gets hunted by another cat later because it couldn't hunt the bigger cat. At that episode again, it either had to hunt or be hunted. Its not just one off title that once you've hunted, you'll never be hunted again!

  9. Harris Sultan

    I think all these people who claim that 'lower' life forms don't grieve are simply ignorant. Lions, Tigers and especially elephants are known for grieving. These ignorant fools only have to look around them!

  10. canag0d

    In my comment I said the narrator said "it's unlikely the homonid's felt grief like humans do". Homonids are pre-evolved humans... Not animals. So I wasn't referring to animals not feeling pain or grief.

    But the key words are there. "Feel grief like humans do", I don't think anyone is debating that these animals feel types of grief and pain etc, but not on the level that humans do. I believe in evolution, and in physiology. Animals don't grieve the way we do because it was never beneficial for the species to do so. However, for humans to evolve to our current state we needed to grieve and feel emotional pain. It's built into our brains to feel this way. It helps us develop stronger bonds with each other, it allows us to love. If we didn't have grief, and sorrow, then there would also be no love. Some animals like elephants seem to be close to our emotional capability in some area's, and there is no doubt when a mother elephant waits days beside he dead calf hoping it wakes up, that she is feeling pain. But I dont think they really understand why there in pain, and it is just instinct for the mother. Of course, we will never know FOR SURE, but I place a good deal of trust in science, and that what we think we understand about how animals feel, is pretty close to reality.

  11. canag0d

    No, you are incorrect. The cat WAS HUNTING and was hunted at the same time. The title says "hunt OR be hunted" NOT "hunt AND be hunted". It is a small detail, that many people just take for granted, but it truly does not make sense. It speaks to the "overall" quality and accuracy of the film. It's a title that was likely not conceived by the scientists or anyone with brains, rather an advertising or marketing team trying to "lure" people in with flashy buzz words that sound interesting. Thats not what a good scientific documentary is about.

    I realize that some people don't see into things as deep as I do (which trust me is a blessing). They say ignorance is bliss right? Unfortunately after seeing the first scene and matching it with the title of the film, it becomes obvious that this is a more entertainment type film then a hard documentary.

  12. Anthony Miller

    In agreement with Harris Sulton-
    it is obvious to me that most animals have emotions; sadness, grief, love, guilt, etc. The emotions of the animal is really in the eyes of the human perception. Obviously since they don't speak like us and some of us don't pay attention to their body language and expression, well then there must not be any emotion in such an observed creature. Instead of seeing ourselves as SO Evolved maybe we could humble ourselves to understand the language of other animals. I find it very beneficial!

  13. Gawd

    "I realize that some people don't see into things as deep as I do (which trust me is a blessing). They say ignorance is bliss right? "

    If you weren't as deep as a Frisbee you might have looked deeper at the opening sequence you mentioned. You might also have noticed (being as deep as you are) that the cat in the opening scene was actually hunting a giant Irish elk, not cat on cat action as you described.
    I stand humbled in your vastness

  14. wpsmithjr

    I personally think that animals feel emotions just as strongly as we do. Ever seen a dog that's happy to see it's owner? Tell me that is not strong emotion. The elephant that you mentioned... staying by it's dead baby for days... again, strong emotions. They may not have the capacity to understand WHY the baby isn't moving, but they are still emotionally disturbed by it. And I don't think it's "instinct" for them any more than it is for us.

  15. sparuga

    Bad,bad,bad documentary. it reminds me of '80s child books.

  16. Dan Flynn

    I think it's kind of asinine how the narrator says "There is no evidence homo erectus felt the sense of loss over death...they were closer to the beasts they shared the world with." Seriously naive view of animal emotion. Just one of probably many examples of the beasts reacting to death: the blue jays in my backyard as a kid and their shrill cries for an entire day over one of their dead.

  17. Justin

    agreed. and a narrow view of the emotional attributes of early humans. much evidence suggests they were strikingly like modern day humans in social structure and intellect, which provides good reason for believing their emotions were similar as well.

  18. Admir Efendic

    we don't "rule the earth", it rules us. sooner we recognize that fact, the better chances we have to actually survive.

  19. Brad

    Nonsense. We rule the earth in the sense that we are top predators. We can wipe out any other creature we want, and have done so for a at least 10,000 years. We will learn to survive only when we stop ruling the earth.

  20. Stu Johnson

    Y r early homonins white?

  21. Kateye70

    Because of the Actor's Guild where the doc was filmed?

  22. Ann Rhodes

    I wouldn't call them white in the modern sense as race is a relatively recent concept, and has no true genetic basis (pockets of genetic drift do not actually separate an individual from their species until they become unable to reproduce fertile offspring with them.) 'White' skin is merely a lack of melanin.

    We share between 98-99% of our DNA with chimpanzees due to a recent common ancestor. Chimps also have 'white' skin, most likely due to their abundance of body hair that takes care of most of the duties darker skin would. When hominids split we gradually lost our hair, changed our habitat, and as a result dark skin became advantageous in the areas of Africa we originated in.

  23. madscirat

    Pretty big assumption that since early hominids did not dispose of corpses through ceremonial means, they did not feel grief. Maybe they were simply less crazy.

  24. avd420

    /me looks around

    I think we're surviving just fine.

  25. Crownturn

    We ruled the earth shown that we are the survived cannibals and predators. We had wiped out all the beast that canivore on our earlier Sapien (Human) creature. And have achieved so more in the last 10,000 years. These is survival of the fittest, ONLY the survived ruled the Earth...

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