Cooked Food Gave us Large Brains

Meat grilled over a fire started an evo­lu­tion that ended with a unique species of su­per in­tel­li­gent, hair­less ape.

Science Illustrated - - HUMANS -

Fire might be the rea­son why we have large brains. Over the past 1.8 mil­lion years, the size of the hu­man brain has more than dou­bled, and ac­cord­ing to some sci­en­tists, this is due to our unique abil­ity to pre­pare food over a fire.

It is dif­fi­cult to ex­tract calo­ries from raw food, which re­quires large quan­ti­ties of en­ergy to digest, but fire can take care of the hard work for us, mak­ing more calo­ries avail­able to the brain. The old­est known in­di­ca­tion of the use of fire is, how­ever, only about one mil­lion years old, so new dis­cov­er­ies are nec­es­sary to con­firm the link be­tween fire and our grow­ing brain.

The re­sult of the fast devel­op­ment is a brain which, with its 1,350 cm3, is more than three times larger than a chimp’s. The ex­tra brain cells have en­sured im­proved con­trol of our lar­ynx and so pro­vided us with our per­haps most im­por­tant ca­pac­ity: lan­guage.

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