WASHINGTON (CBS DC) – We’re used to thinking of ourselves at the top of the food chain.
But a new study cited by Popular Science suggests that we are really in the middle, on the same level as pigs and anchovies.
How does that work?
Researchers calculate the balance of meats and plants eaten by each species of animal, and whether that meat comes from carnivores or herbivores.
This is called an animal’s “trophic level.”
For humans, the level is somewhere between a 2.0 and a 2.6, on a scale of 1 to 5, in which 1s are plants and 5.5s are killer whales.
It’s the first study of its kind.
Scientists separated the finding by country, and found the highest trophic levels include Mongolia, Mauritania, Iceland and the Scandinavian nations, all of which have high levels of meat and fish in their diets.
The research also shows people in developing countries are eating more meat while those in the developed world are adding more fruits and vegetables to their tables.
The study is published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.