Here are a few excerpts from The Economist's review of Dr. Wrangham's presentation at the annual meeting of the AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) two weeks ago:1
"Without cooking, the human brain (which consumes 20-25% of the body's energy) could not keep running."Some hypothesize that increased meat-eating was the dietary change that led to the emergence 1.8 million years ago of a species called Home erectus, which:
"In fact, [Dr. Wrangham] thinks that cooking and other forms of preparing food are humanity's 'killer app': the evolutionary change that underpins all of the other -- and subsequent -- changes that have made people such unusual animals."
"... had a skeleton much like modern man's -- a big, brain-filled skull and a narrow pelvis and ribcage, which imply a smaller abdomen and thus a small gut."Dr. Wrangham disagrees with the meat-eating charge:
"When you do the sums, he argues, raw meat is still insufficient to bridge the gap. ... Pre-agricultural man confined to raw food would have starved."The Lower Cost of Digestion
"Cooking increases the share of food digested in the stomach and small intestine, where it can be absorbed, from 50% to 95%."On a study in rats ...
"Experimenters ground up food pellets and then recompacted them to make them softer. Rats fed on the softer pellets weighed 30% more after 26 weeks than those fed the same weight of standard pellets."The "Killer App" That Grew Our Brains Now Threatens Our Health
"Dr. Wrangham suspects the main cause of the modern epidemic of obesity is not overeating, but the rise of processed foods."