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Fri Apr 6, 2012, 01:39 PM

Cooking: The 1-Million-Year-Old Technology


In 2009 Harvard anthropologist Richard Wrangham offered a novel theory on the evolution of humans: Homo erectus could not have evolved nearly two million years ago without consuming cooked food. No way, he argued, could raw food have provided the calories necessary for the development of the human brain. Its digestion alone requires too much energy. But cooked food changed everything. It's much easier to digest, freeing up energy to fuel our brains, not our guts. "The extra energy gave the first cooks biological advantages," he wrote. "They survived and reproduced better than before. Their genes spread. Their bodies responded by biologically adapting to cooked food, shaped by natural selection to take maximum advantage of the new diet. There were changes in anatomy, physiology, ecology, life history, psychology and society."

But there was one small problem with Wrangham's theory: Cooking food requires fire, and the oldest unequivocal evidence for human control of fire only ("only") dates to 400,000 years ago. No fire, no cooking. The few archaeological sites in Africa, Asia, and Europe with trace fire evidence dating back to 700,000 to 1.5 million years ago are open air, meaning wildfires cannot be ruled out, or are inconclusive for other reasons.

Now a new paper published this week provides what the authors call "unambiguous evidence in the form of burned bone and ashed plant remains" that "burning events" occurred in Wonderwerk Cave, an archaeological site in South Africa, one million years ago. The archaeologists -- led by Francsco Berna of Boston University -- have been working in the cave, "an approximately 140-m-long phreatic tube," since 2004.


Thus, we have another nail in the coffin of another fad diet:

Stop Using Cavemen as an Excuse for Your Fad Diet

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Reply Cooking: The 1-Million-Year-Old Technology (Original post)
HuckleB Apr 2012 OP
Tumbulu Apr 2012 #1
provis99 Apr 2012 #2
xchrom Apr 2012 #3

Response to HuckleB (Original post)

Fri Apr 6, 2012, 02:03 PM

1. so interesting....thanks for posting

Last edited Sat Apr 7, 2012, 12:00 AM - Edit history (1)

While a PCV in West Africa we were TOLD quite sternly to cook all our food for at least 20 minutes and to boil the water we were to drink.....we got these huge gama shots every six months...all this to prevent hepatitis.....now there are handy vaccines and I guess if I went back I could eat the fresh veggies and fruit.....

But I changed my habits at that young age and the only salads I ever eat is at someone else's house....I make marvelous broths and cook all my veggies in those so that I get the liquids from the veggies in the soups......my diet is quite old fashioned in that way.

So, this is interesting. I also cook food for my dog and the old sheep.

By the way, where I lived in West Africa the women cooked all the food- nothing was eaten raw or fresh, either.

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Response to HuckleB (Original post)

Fri Apr 6, 2012, 06:44 PM

2. I wonder what a Caveman Cookbook would look like?


"1. Take one wooly mammoth, boil for 2 hours, salting lightly..."

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