Analysis Of Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human

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Food: the most necessary supplement to life. There are few experiences that can best biting into a perfectly grilled steak, or savoring the first bite of a warm apple pie. In times of low energy, these dishes and many others step up perfectly to reinvigorate the tired person. Why, then, for most of history, has food been consumed raw? Richard Wrangham explores the notion of cooking and how it led to the evolution of the hominin ancestors into modern humans in his book Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human. In it he addresses many questions and theories about his hypothesis. Some of the more important ones are the influence of food on inter-birth interval, the avoidance of starvation by Homo sapiens ancestors, our ancestors’ loss of body …show more content…
Differences in anatomy between H. habilis and H. erectus are more drastic than between H. erectus and modern humans. The reason for the decreased size in the anatomical structures that deal with eating is the onset of cooking. This led to a change in the structure of the digestive system in modern humans. The stomach and colon are both considerably smaller than they would be in a primate of comparable size. The stomach is roughly one-third the size primate anatomy dictates it should be. Wrangham suggests that the high caloric density of cooked food leads to a stomach that can afford to be small. Fiber retention is also much less in modern humans due to an undersized large intestine. (Wrangham …show more content…
The high energy content of cooked food would also give a quicker rate of growth to the offspring. (Wrangham 180) This increased growth rate would allow the offspring to contribute to the community at an earlier age, and become a functioning member of society at an earlier age.
Another part of Wrangham’s hypothesis has to do with the survival of our ancestors. Unaided by any tools or modern conveniences, humans are weak. Compared to many creatures, we have no natural advantages: no claws, fangs, armor, enhanced sight, hearing or smell, and so on. Fire itself, and the ability to cook, allowed us to survive through the times when we were the low creature on the food chain. Fire played a role in several aspects of hominin survival. Every living creature has a natural aversion to fire. Fire burns, it injures, and it destroys when confronted. Even today, every survival guide lists fire as one of the three basic, immediate needs for survival, along with shelter and water; using fire and a little bit of ingenuity, one can derive both of the other two needs from fire. A sense of security and protection accompanies a fire, in nature or in a fireplace, and this allowed our early ancestors to have protection against the larger predators in the

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