By Alan Rabinowitz
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Additional resources for An Indomitable Beast: The Remarkable Journey of the Jaguar
For on the heels of the modern jaguar was that other group of highly resilient mammals that had followed them through the Pleistocene Corridor and across Beringia, perhaps the greatest mammalian dispersers that ever lived. And what now followed was to prove far more threatening to the jaguar’s survival than anything it had yet experienced. Modern man was on the scene. Chapter 3 The First People of the Jaguar I was on an overgrown dirt track far back in the Cockscomb Basin of Belize, a former access road cut when the timber company operating there had been on its last legs.
Such a beast needed to be both respected and controlled. The jaguar, with its power, ferocity, and valor, was of man’s world, yet outside of man’s world; it was a strong, secretive animal of the dark, dense forest, linked to the spirit world, godly but not God. God (or gods) empowered man to chase, wound, and even kill this favored species when necessary, despite its otherworldly status. Certain humans, such as shamans, were empowered to use the powerful medicinal plants of the jaguar’s world in order to enter that world themselves, become a “were-jaguar”—half-jaguar and half-human similar to the werewolf of European folklore.
But as humans evolved from scavengers to predators, their killing apparatus now contained more highly efficient projectile points made into spears and knives, along with specialized tools for butchering and hide processing. 8 million years ago, might have been the first truly predatory human species, and evidence suggests that he scavenged carnivore kills from wild predators. Scavenging may have played as important a role in human foraging as did hunting in early hominids, possibly resulting in some of the first interactions between early man and large carnivores, including jaguars.