Cooking is what made us human, says expert

December 20th, 2009 - 4:36 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Dec 20 (ANI): Richard Wrangham, professor of anthropology at Harvard University, argues that cooking is the major factor in human evolution.

In his book, Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human, he shows that the shift from raw to cooked foods is what makes us human.

Wrangham first explained why couldn’t a human exist on the same diet as a chimpanzee.

“A chimpanzee’s diet is like eating crab apples and rose hips. Just go into the woods and find some fruits, and see if you can come back with a full stomach. The answer is you can’t. The big difficulty is that the nutrient density is not very high,” New Scientist quoted him as saying.

“This is problematic for humans because we have a very small gut, about 60 per cent of the volume it would be if we were one of the other great apes. We don’t have enough intestine to keep low-quality food in our gut long enough to digest it,” he added.

He said that cooking provided some kind of a watershed for humans to split from our chimp-like ancestors.

“Cooking led to increased energy intake. Maximising energy from food allowed us to lose a third of the large intestine and significantly expand our brain size. It affected our brain because humans were social and there was a premium on being as intelligent as possible in order to outsmart your opponents in competition, ultimately for mates,” Wrangham added. (ANI)

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