News FocusHUMAN EVOLUTION

Did Cooked Tubers Spur the Evolution of Big Brains?

Science  26 Mar 1999:
Vol. 283, Issue 5410, pp. 2004-2005
DOI: 10.1126/science.283.5410.2004

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Summary

In work in press in Current Anthropology, anthropologists announce a controversial theory that tubers--and the ability to cook them--prompted the appearance early in human evolution of large brains, smaller teeth, modern limb proportions, and even male-female bonding. The work challenges the current dogma that meat-eating spurred the evolution of key human traits, and it implies that human ancestors had mastered fire much earlier than is generally believed. But the idea dovetails with another recent challenge to the primacy of meat-eating as an evolutionary force: the idea that gathering by females was crucial .