Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human
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Ever since Darwin and The Descent of Man, the existence of humans has been attributed to our intelligence and adaptability. But in Catching Fire, renowned primatologist Richard Wrangham presents a startling alternative: our evolutionary success is the result of cooking. In a groundbreaking theory of our origins, Wrangham shows that the shift from raw to cooked foods was the key factor in human evolution. When our ancestors adapted to using fire, humanity began. Once our hominid ancestors began cooking their food, the human digestive tract shrank and the brain grew. Time once spent chewing tough raw food could be sued instead to hunt and to tend camp. Cooking became the basis for pair bonding and marriage, created the household, and even led to a sexual division of labor. Tracing the contemporary implications of our ancestors’ diets, Catching Fire sheds new light on how we came to be the social, intelligent, and sexual species we are today. A pathbreaking new theory of human evolution, Catching Fire will provoke controversy and fascinate anyone interested in our ancient origins—or in our modern eating habits.
piths and leaves—presumably because they are physiologically unable to do so. The relative ability of these two apes to rely on foliage might at first glance appear to be a trivial matter—especially compared to the introduction of cooking. But many consequences follow from it. To find their vital fruits, chimpanzees must travel farther than gorillas, so they are more agile and smaller. There are differences in distributional range. Unlike chimpanzees, gorillas successfully occupy high-altitude
protein. I mention these modifications to the Atwater system to show that nutritionists have been actively engaged in trying to improve it, and to show that the changes they have proposed have on the whole been rather minor. For example, although egg protein produces more kilocalories per gram (4.36) than brown rice protein (3.41), neither figure is very far from Atwater’s estimate of 4 kcal/gram. In fact, although the specific-factor system lends greater precision, the overall effects of the
Brillat-Savarin recorded an enthusiastic testimony: Hunt (1961), p. 17, citing Brillat-Savarin’s Gastronomy as a Fine Art (1826). 76 A team of Japanese scientists: Oka et al. (2003). The average yield forces of hard and soft pellets were 85.5 newtons and 41.8 newtons, respectively. 78 Secor and his team have shown repeatedly: Pythons: Secor (2003); toads: Secor and Faulkner (2002). Overview of the costs of digestion: Secor (2009). 79 But grinding and cooking changed the costs of
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