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Did cooking make us human?

  • Pickering, Travis.
  • Videos

About this work


Does our relationship to food and cooking provide an important clue to our evolution? Experiments show that modern humans can not live for very long eating only raw fruit and vegetables as our ancestors did. Evolutionary scientists show how our ancestors brains began to grow when we turned to eating meat. Travis Pickering visits an African tribe and follows them on a traditional hunting expedition where they spend four hours digging out a porcupine from its burrow; they are later shown cookind and eating it. Studies of ancient tooth samples give an indication of what kind of foods our ancestors ate and the environment in which they lived. The evolution of homo erectus appears to coincide with the origin of cooked food. Models of digestive systems are shown which compare how raw and cooked potato are digested by a human stomach, as well as microscopic images of the compositions of different food stuffs. Experiments on snakes to show how they digest cooked and raw food and how energy releases of the different meats differ, are shown. This sort of evidence led to the large brain / small gut theory put forward by Peter Wheeler.


UK : BBC2, 2010.

Physical description

1 DVD (60 min.) : sound, color, PAL.


Broadcast on 2 March, 2010.

Creator/production credits

Produced and directed by Charles Colville.

Copyright note




  • English

Where to find it

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