Brain Size and Diet

In: Science

8 Nov 2012

I love these evolutionary causation theories.

A study published yesterday in the journal PNAS puts weight behind the hypothesis that–more than any social or environmental factor–humans own their giant cognitive leap to the ancestral chefs and proto grill masters who invented cooked food.

Why? According to the researchers, a diet of raw foods can’t support an endless growth of both brawn and brains. Larger body sizes and bigger brains both meant more energy use, which meant more time spent eating each day.

And, since no primate can sustain a daily foraging requirement of much more than eight hours (gorillas average close to eight, but sometimes spend closer to nine), our ancestors must have found some way to get more energy in less time.

I don’t know that I buy the summary argument, but viewing “time spent getting calories” as a driver of intelligence and socialization selection is intriguing.

Thanks to Will T. for sending in the link!

1 Response to Brain Size and Diet



November 16th, 2012 at 11:05 am

The use of the brains to convey an additional dimension of data is nice, but it spoils the comparison between what looks like a curve flattening out around 8 hours for the monkeys, and one that diverges for the Homo lineage.

which is much of the point.

Comment Form

What is Chart Porn?

An addictive collection of beautiful charts, graphs, maps, and interactive data visualization toys -- on topics from around the world.

  • J S: Thanks for the great story. Miss reading this blog. Hope to see you more active again. [...]
  • jake: I lived in a DC row house for 6 years, and I'm writing this comment from my tiny 1 bedroom apartment [...]
  • ronny pettersen: Hilarious and unfortunately accurate... ;-) [...]
  • Jeremy: The screen usually gets larger for every phone, even though the size of the device itself follows th [...]
  • noah g: I would like to use the graph for a debate, may I have the source you used to get it because i feel [...]