DID COOKING MAKE US HUMAN? I posted here about speculation that cooking was a great labor-saving invention for early man because it reduced dramatically the time spent chewing and here on how eating cooked meals freed up energy for human brains. This article in the Economist reports on a paper that argues that “cooking and humanity are coeval”—that they must have developed at the same time. In fact, “cooking and other forms of preparing food are humanity’s ‘killer app’: the evolutionary change that underpins all of the other—and subsequent—changes that have made people such unusual animals.” Without cooking to make starches and proteins more digestible and to soften food so that the body uses fewer calories in processing it, you would not have the big, brain-filled skull and narrow pelvises which characterize man. Homo erectus confined to raw food would have starved.

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