Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human by Richard W. Wrangham

By Richard W. Wrangham

In Catching fireplace, popular primatologist Richard Wrangham argues that our evolutionary good fortune is the results of cooking. as soon as our hominid ancestors started cooking, the human digestive tract shrank and the mind grew; and pair bonding, marriage, the family, or even the sexual department of work emerged. A pathbreaking idea of human evolution, Catching fireplace will fascinate someone attracted to our historical originsor our sleek consuming behavior.

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When an airplane crashed in the Chilean Andes in  and stranded twenty-seven people for seventy-one days, the survivors resorted to cannibalism and cooked the meat. When the whale ship Essex went down in the Pacific and its sailors cannibalized one another in small lifeboats, they cooked on stone-bottomed fires. Several Japanese soldiers lived alone in the jungle after World War II. One of them, Shoichi Yokio, stayed in Guam until , surviving on fruits, snails, eels, and rats. But he did not eat them raw.

Even when we cook our meat we are vulnerable to bacterial infections. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that at least forty thousand cases of food poisoning by Salmonella alone are reported annually in the United States, and as many as one million cases may go unreported. The estimated total number of cases due to the top twenty harmful bacteria, including Staphylococcus, Clostridium, Campylobacter, Listeria, Vibrio, Bacillus, and Escherichia coli (E. coli), is in the tens of millions per year.

But despite these hints of humans being designed for meat eating, our mouths, teeth, and jaws are clearly not well adapted to eating meat unless it has been cooked. Raw wild meat from game animals is tough, which is partly why cooking is so important. Advocates of the meat-eating hypothesis have themselves noted that humans differ from carnivores by our having small mouths, weak jaws, and small teeth that cannot easily shear flesh. The way food moves through our bodies compounds the problem. In carnivores, meat spends a long time in the stomach, allowing intense muscular contractions of the stomach walls to reduce raw meat to small particles that can be digested rapidly.

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