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See Inside Evolution: What Makes Us Human

Cooking Up Bigger Brains [Preview]

Our hominid ancestors probably could not have eaten enough raw food to support large, calorie-hungry brains. The key to our evolution may have been the invention of the kitchen

In Brief

  • Who
    RICHARD WRANGHAM
  • VOCATION | AVOCATION
    Flame on: Argues that the practice of cooking food, beginning with Homo erectus, ultimately enabled the human brain to evolve to its current large size.
  • RESEARCH FOCUS
    Into the frying pan: His theory has many skeptics because only scattered signs of fire use by H. erectus exist. One example: a Chinese site where H. erectus may have spat hackberry seeds into early campfires (producing spectacular sparks).
  • BIG PICTURE
    On the importance of the stove: “Everywhere, everyone expects a cooked meal every evening.”

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