Hunter gatherer societies likely initiated during the Lower Paleolithic period which began 2.5 million years ago. Archaeological studies have uncovered that stone tools first appeared in Africa during this time. The development of tools allowed for not only the seizing of food, but primitive methods of processing it.
Hunter gatherer societies differ from scavenging societies because scavenging did not actually involve the hunting of any animals. Rather, scavenging was focused on the collecting of food items such as berries, plants and possibly eggs.
Conversely, hunter gatherer societies were capable of collecting both plant and animal species. The quality and type of animals which they were able to seize evolved directly with the increased sophistication of tools. Larger tools eventually gave rise to big game hunting. However, big game hunting also depended upon human cooperation and thus, the development of communication and social skills were required.
In terms of how hunter gatherer societies relate to plant biology, these societies represent the first mode of collecting plants for use before the domestication of plant species as crops took place, which occurred once agriculture evolved. Therefore, for hunter gatherer societies the nutritional value derived from plants was lower and the acquisition of animals would have been more beneficial for meeting energy demands. Furthermore, in the earliest hunter gatherer societies, the development of communication skills such as reading, writing and speaking were not present. Thus, it is probable that plants were used strictly as a source of food initially for these societies rather than analyzed and tested for their other properties.