Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human

June 10, 2009 at 3:25 pm Leave a comment

Layout 1Biological anthropologist Richard Wrangham’s book Catching Fire is on fire … a mention in both the National Post and The Globe and Mail over the past week: on Saturday, Gina Mallet, author of her own award-winning book on food, Last Chance to Eat, the Fate of Taste in a Fast Food World, mentioned the book in her regular Post column. She also posted a full review on her blog. Today, Michael Kesterton mentions Catching Fire in his Globe column “Social Studies”:

Cook and be human

“[N]o other animal controls fire. Most fear it. The use of fire sets humans apart,” Saswato R. Das writes in New Scientist magazine. “But what difference has it made? … Primatologist Richard Wrangham, who has been observing chimpanzees in Africa for 40 years, believes it is cooking itself that makes us human. The pre-human species Homo erectus, which evolved in the African savannah roughly 1.8 million years ago, was in many ways similar to us: It had an upright body, long legs, large skull and small gut. As Wrangham put it, H. erectus could have worn our clothes, unlike the apes that came before it. … Wrangham [argues] that humans cannot easily digest raw meat and so our smaller gut must have evolved as a result of cooking.”

Published by Basic Books


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