Fire, Starch, Meat, and Honey

Session Date: 
Dec 7, 2012

Unlike all other free-living animals, human populations need to eat much of their food cooked. When and why this evolutionary commitment to the control of fire began is a fascinating evolutionary puzzle. We now know that cooking causes starch and meat to provide much extra energy; that cooked food saves so much eating time that it makes dedicated hunting possible; and that honey-eating by African hunter-gatherers offers a remarkable clue that the control of fire is an ancient habit. From an evolutionary perspective, the special feature of the human diet is not so much its ingredients, as how we prepare them.

File 2012_12_07_07_Wrangham.mp496.69 MB