Posted: 09 Mar 2016 10:56 AM PST
According to a new study, our ancestors between 2 and 3 million years ago started to spend far less time and effort chewing by adding meat to their diet and by using stone tools to process their food. The researchers estimate that such a diet would have saved early humans as many as 2.5 million chews per year, and made possible further changes that helped make us human.
I wonder what they did instead of chewing that helped them evolve.
I read somewhere that the greatest leap for mankind was when we started cooking our food, which allowed early man to digest there meals and gain more calories from the same amount of food.
There are a couple of things (at least) that could have been better emphasized in the article.
Our brains require 20% of the bodies energy intake. Larger brains required significantly more energy intake, and more energy can be gotten from meat than from vegetables. Processing (and cooking) food made it much easier for us to get those calories for larger brains.
Our jaws are weak, compared to our ancestors. Skull and an mandible design for humans also had to adjust quickly to larger brains, including the location of jaw muscles, etc.
Another (albeit perhaps less related?) adjustment in our genes had to do with the design of our neck, specifically to support the head with less muscles, to adjust the vocal tract to be more versatile and yet not choke on our food, and... probably more that I don't remember. What I find fascinating is how quickly humans physically evolved once they could make use in their culture of new tools, communication abilities, and hunting abilities (e.g. losing fur so that sweat could cool them off for longer periods of time while their prey quit running, from physical exhaustion).
I.e., lots of evolution happened relatively quickly for humans, as their physique, brain, and new abilities to share knowledge and culture started coming together.
What interests me is that you can go to almost any field in the UK and you will find stone tools and even the waste of stone tool making. Flint napping I think they call it.
Like you say JadeBlackOlive fascinating.
Agreed. The human brain has just about tripled in size in just the past two million years. I also wish we knew more about the Denisovan species of humans.
Seems they "got on down" with Neanderthals who also mingled with us "erectus". Horny bastids !!!
Are our brains still evolving and will they become larger, I cant imagine that modern peoples are the apex of Human evolution.
The 10,000 Year Explosion is worth a read.