DISCLAIMER: This article is being kept online for historical purposes. Though accurate at last review, it is no longer being updated. The page may contain broken links or outdated information.
Origins of cooking
Organ, Chris Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
- When and why did cooking evolve?
- Evolutionary (phylogenetic) analysis
- Cooking is about more than calories
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
How an animal obtains and consumes its food is a defining characteristic of a species. It also provides information that can be used to broadly categorize animals. Many primates, for example, are omnivorous and consume a variety of food types, including fruits, leaves, and insects. Omnivorous primates have ecological and evolutionary relationships with local plant species that are different from those of local carnivores. Diet also plays an important role in shaping the anatomy and physiology of animals. Some primate species, for instance, have independently evolved adaptations to digest foliage. Species within the Old World monkey group Colobinae are foregut fermenters with compartmentalized stomachs, whereas hindgut fermenters such as some strepsirrhine folivores (leaf-eating lemurs, including species of Indriidae) have compartmentalized ceca and long and coiled colons. Not all dietary adaptations are found in the gut; changes also occur in the limbs, salivary glands, teeth, and skull. Some primates also use tools to obtain and process food. Although basic tool use (stone hammers and sticks) has been observed in wild capuchin monkeys (New World monkeys of the subfamily Cebinae), it has been extensively documented in great apes (Hominidae). For example, chimpanzees (genus Pan) [Fig. 1] create termite-collecting sticks by using their teeth to clip off leaves. Although chimpanzees eat fruits, leaves, and insects, they also hunt other primates, and they even use sticks that have been fashioned into spears in this activity. Chimpanzees also process food to a surprising degree, having been observed pounding oil-palm stems, mashing and soaking fruit in water, and chewing raw meat with tough leaves that have no nutritional value (which apparently aids in mastication). Processing food increases the number of freely available calories compared with unprocessed food of the same type. Therefore, food-processing behaviors are important for individual fitness because, over time, increased caloric intake influences reproductive success.
The content above is only an excerpt.
for your institution. Subscribe
To learn more about subscribing to AccessScience, or to request a no-risk trial of this award-winning scientific reference for your institution, fill in your information and a member of our Sales Team will contact you as soon as possible.
to your librarian. Recommend
Let your librarian know about the award-winning gateway to the most trustworthy and accurate scientific information.
AccessScience provides the most accurate and trustworthy scientific information available.
Recognized as an award-winning gateway to scientific knowledge, AccessScience is an amazing online resource that contains high-quality reference material written specifically for students. Contributors include more than 9000 highly qualified scientists and 43 Nobel Prize winners.
MORE THAN 8700 articles covering all major scientific disciplines and encompassing the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science & Technology and McGraw-Hill Yearbook of Science & Technology
115,000-PLUS definitions from the McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific and Technical Terms
3000 biographies of notable scientific figures
MORE THAN 19,000 downloadable images and animations illustrating key topics
ENGAGING VIDEOS highlighting the life and work of award-winning scientists
SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER STUDY and additional readings to guide students to deeper understanding and research
LINKS TO CITABLE LITERATURE help students expand their knowledge using primary sources of information