Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human

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Basic Books, May 26, 2009 - Science - 320 pages
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The groundbreaking theory of how fire and food drove the evolution of modern humans

Ever since Darwin and The Descent of Man, the evolution and world-wide dispersal of humans has been attributed to our intelligence and adaptability. But in Catching Fire, renowned primatologist Richard Wrangham presents a startling alternative: our evolutionary success is the result of cooking. In a groundbreaking theory of our origins, Wrangham shows that the shift from raw to cooked foods was the key factor in human evolution. Once our hominid ancestors began cooking their food, the human digestive tract shrank and the brain grew. Time once spent chewing tough raw food could be sued instead to hunt and to tend camp. Cooking became the basis for pair bonding and marriage, created the household, and even led to a sexual division of labor. In short, once our ancestors adapted to using fire, humanity began. Tracing the contemporary implications of our ancestors' diets, Catching Fire sheds new light on how we came to be the social, intelligent, and sexual species we are today. A pathbreaking new theory of human evolution, Catching Fire will provoke controversy and fascinate anyone interested in our ancient origins-or in our modern eating habits.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Sharon.Flesher - LibraryThing

This book was interesting and well-researched (the endnotes are about a third of the book), but details were a bit repetitive and beyond the scope of my interest in the topic. I think i would've ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Amelia_Smith - LibraryThing

This was an interesting book about human evolution, well-written and informative. The thing that bugged me about it was the final chapter. The jacket promised that this book would discuss what had ... Read full review


The Cooks Body
When Cooking Began
Brain Foods
How Cooking Frees
The Cooks Journey

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About the author (2009)

Richard Wrangham is the Ruth Moore Professor of Biological Anthropology at Harvard University and Curator of Primate Behavioral Biology at the Peabody Museum. He is the co-author of Demonic Malesand and co-editor of Chimpanzee Cultures. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.