| 3 September 2011
Is the world's oldest profession actually a chef?
Research into Homo Erectus, the ancestor of our modern day Homo Sapiens, has shown that cooked food played a major part in our evolution and, in particular, brain growth.
Homo Erectus walked the earth nearly 2 million years ago and a recent study carried out by Havard University, USA, has shown that by cooking food, rather than eating it raw, daily eating time was reduced from 48% to approximately 4.7%. This not only provided more potential time for thinking and inventing but the very act of cooking made it easier to extract more calories from the food and more nutrition, thus fuelling brain growth.
The other big discernable physical attribute was the reduction in the size of teeth as the food was now more tender and thus needed less raw power than ripping off a carcass or plant, chewing and digesting. Direct correllations can be drawn for this from other primates.
The research by the Havard team has been supported by David Strait, a paleoanthropologist from the University at Albany in New York, USA, who is quoted as saying "This is really compelling indirect evidence that human lineage became adapted to and dependent on cooking their food by the time Homo Erectus evolved".
Edited from Science News (22 August 2011)
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