Segments in this Video

Evolutionary Changes (03:02)


Ancestors of homo sapiens made great evolutionary strides over millions of years. Could these changes be attributed to the food they ate?

Primitive Diet and Today's Digestive Systems (05:17)

Primates in the past and present spend most of their time chewing. Humans do not have as many opportunities today to chew. Volunteers try a primitive diet. Modern digestive systems cannot handle that amount of food.

Australopithecus and Homo Habilis (02:50)

Could eating meat have caused humans to evolve? Homo habilis had a brain 30% larger than Australopithecus, But was habilis able to contend with the complexities of hunting?

Ancient Hunting Methods (04:55)

A Namibian tribe, relatively untouched by 21st century information and technology, relies on ancient hunting methods. All their food is hunted and gathered. They chase a porcupine down its hole.

Ancient Jaws and Teeth (03:28)

A scientist studies ancient human ancestors' teeth to determine what the teeth could have chewed in their time. The teeth of Australopithecus could not chew meat.

Cooking and Evolution (02:48)

Did cooking cause human ancestors to evolve? Some scientists believe that cooked food propelled the evolution of Homo sapiens. Cooking increased the quality of the diet.

Homo Erectus: Bigger Brain (04:05)

About 1.8 million years ago, homo erectus emerged with a brain 20% larger than Australopithecus. It is speculated that cooking began about 1 million years ago. Ancient animal bones show charring and tool cuts.

Homo Erectus and Cooked Food (04:54)

Science seeks clues in one-million-year-old caves that prove homo erectus used fire to cook food. How do modern-day hunters and gatherers cook their prey? And what do the remains look like?

Power of Cooked Food (02:07)

What is it about cooking foods that could have had such powerful effects on early humans? Studies on mice prove that cooked food gives mice more energy. These same mice gained weight.

Cooked Foods and Energy (03:29)

A machine simulates the human digestive system. Scientists study how the machine digests raw potatoes. Most of the potatoes remain undigested. Cooked potatoes are easily digested and release more energy.

Food Structure and Cooking (02:04)

A food scientist demonstrates how cooking causes potatoes to break down and release their starch molecules. Cooking gave human ancestors great advantages over all other animals. Cooking is a pre-digestion process.

Cooked Food and Digestion (04:24)

Studies with a python demonstrate that a chunk of raw steak about the size of a rat takes up to 7 days to digest. A second meal is ground and cooked and takes 24% less energy to digest.

Energy for Brain Fuel (02:21)

Cooking allowed early humans to evolve more quickly, reducing the size of the gut and leaving more energy for developmental activities and brain growth. At rest, the human brain uses 20% of the available energy.

Humans and Sugar Cravings (03:33)

Humans are programmed to eat energy-rich, sweet, fatty foods. These cravings are ancient. In the 21st century, foods are increasingly made energy rich. The hungry brain that made humans evolve now threatens to destroy them.

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Did Cooking Make Us Human?

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The use of heat and utensils to process food may be more than a by-product of human evolution. According to theories presented in this program, cooking began much earlier than previously thought and ignited a series of changes that shaped our physical and mental abilities. Viewers visit South African caves containing evidence, including tools and charred bone material, that pushes back the timescale during which proto-humans began to hunt and tame fire. Meanwhile, several noted anthropologists share other ideas concerning the evolution of the human jaw, stomach, and cranium—asserting that the digestion of cooked meat instead of raw helped our ancestors build bigger brains. A BBC Production. (52 minutes)

Length: 52 minutes

Item#: BVL41962

ISBN: 978-1-61616-916-9

Copyright date: ©2010

Closed Captioned

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