Did cooking make us human?

May 30, 2009 • 2:06 pm

Well, everybody’s looking for what propelled us from our common ancestor with chimps to the wonderful species we are today. If it’s not genes, it’s culture.  Today’s NYT discusses Richard Wrangham’s new theory (previously mentioned on this website) about how the taming of fire and its use to cook food were crucial events in making our species what it is today.  I am skeptical (I’ve seen many of these theories come and go), but still looking forward to reading Wrangham’s. new book, Catching Fire: How Cooking Made us Human.

6 thoughts on “Did cooking make us human?

    1. Not as long as it’s funded by the Templeton Foundation (not sure about all of their activities, but I turned down one invite to bhtv that was).

  1. These “What made us special?” questions always bug me, precisely because we’re not special. No one goes around writing books asking “What made house cats so distinct from Felis silvestris?”

    What makes us human is the same thing that made lions lions and California newts California newts: genetic isolation.

    Maybe I’m totally missing the point. Fellow skeptics, enlighten me if I’m misinterpreting the premise of the question.

    1. Yes. That was after the “aquatic ape” thing, and the “music made us human” thing.

  2. It’s a very plausible idea but I’d hardly call it new. I read about it about thirty years ago in a book on evolution which pointed out that the use of fire for cooking coincided with smaller teeth in our lineage.

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