This is a show about evolution—but not, for once, about the evolution wars. Instead, it concerns one of the most intriguing ideas to emerge in quite some time about the evolution of humans.
In his much discussed book Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human, Harvard anthropologist Richard Wrangham argues that we’ve been ignoring a critical catalyst in the creation of our species—a little technology called cooking.
Cooking was the game changer, says Wrangham. It upended everything. It altered how we obtained energy, which in turn morphed our anatomy and cranial capacity. Cooking even changed how we came to spend our days, and divide labor between the sexes.
According to Wrangham, learning to cook therefore ranks among the most important things that ever happened to our ancestors. In this episode of Point of Inquiry, he discusses why cooking was so pivotal—and why its role has so long been overlooked.
Richard Wrangham is the Ruth Moore professor of biological anthropology at Harvard University, and the author, with Dale Peterson, of Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence. His new book is Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human.