The Evolution of Human Nutrition

Tracing the evolution of the human diet from our earliest ancestors can lead to a better understanding of human adaptation in the past. It may also offer clues to the origin of many health problems that we currently face, such as obesity and chronic disease. The CARTA public symposium on "The Evolution of Human Nutrition" brought together scientists from a wide variety of backgrounds to explore the diets of our ancestors. What did early humans eat? Were the nutritional requirements and dietary needs of contemporary humans established in our prehistoric past? At this symposium, a lively discussion took place about the changing diets of our ancestors - from australopith diets to current hunter-gatherer diets - and what role these dietary transitions played in the evolution of humans. (from

Fire, Starch, Meat, and Honey. Unlike all other free-living animals, human populations need to eat much of their food cooked. We now know that cooking causes starch and meat to provide much extra energy; that cooked food saves so much eating time that it makes dedicated hunting possible; and that honey-eating by African hunter-gatherers offers a remarkable clue that the control of fire is an ancient habit. From an evolutionary perspective, Richard Wrangham (Harvard Univ) contends that the special feature of the human diet is not so much its ingredients, as how we prepare them.

5. Fire, Starch, Meat, and Honey

Go to the Series Home or watch other lectures:

1. Background and Overview
2. Diets and Microbes in Primates
3. Current Hunter-Gatherer Diets
4. Australopith Diets
5. Fire, Starch, Meat, and Honey
6. Neanderthal Diets
7. Archaic Human Diets
8. Agriculture's Impact on Human Evolution
9. Impact of Globalization on Children's Nutrition