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← Did Cooking Make Us Human?

Christopher Davis's Avatar Jump to comment 3 by Christopher Davis

@ ANTIcarrot,

I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss the impact of cooked food on human evolution. However, I agree with you that any claims that it was the original or driving force behind the development of the cognitive expanse that separates us from our closest living primate relatives are overblown.

I won't be able to see this program, but I am familiar with the ideas put forth by Richard Wrangham in the article that bluebird links to in comment #2. While I find some of Wrangham's arguments compelling, I still believe that increased meat consumption is what led to the development of enough cognitive ability to master fire...which is really what Wrangham is talking about.

There is no reason to assume that early humans couldn't have scavenged a significant amount of meat before cooking became the norm (of course some meat may have been scavenged from the carcasses of animals killed by forest fires, but I am dubious that this could have been a consistently exploitable niche). Also, scavenged meat is often decaying meat, which I imagine is easier to chew than fresh meat, so it is also not neccessary to speculate that early humans needed jaws and dentition equivalent to those of modern carnivores.

In essence one can speculate all day, but it is hard to contrive a scenario whereby early humans weren't accomplished meat-eaters before ever learning to cook.

Thu, 04 Mar 2010 14:42:00 UTC | #446569