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In this stunningly original book, Richard Wrangham argues that it was cooking that caused the extraordinary transformation of our ancestors from apelike beings to Homo erectus. At the heart of Catching Fire lies an explosive new idea: the habit of eating cooked rather than raw food permitted the digestive tract to shrink and the human brain to grow, helped structure human society, and created the male-female division of labour. As our ancestors adapted to using fire, humans emerged as "the cooking apes". Covering everything from food-labelling and overweight pets to raw-food faddists, Catching Fire offers a startlingly original argument about how we came to be the social, intelligent, and sexual species we are today.
Richard Wrangham has taught biological anthropology at Harvard University since 1989. His major interests are chimpanzee behavioral ecology, the evolution of violence and tolerance, human dietary adaptation, and the conservation of chimpanzees and other apes. He has studied chimpanzees in Kibale National Park, Uganda, since 1987.
– Nigella Lawson
"This notion is surprising, fresh and, in the hands of Richard Wrangham, utterly persuasive [...] Big, new ideas do not come along often in evolution these days, but this is one."
– Matt Ridley, author of Genome