Arise, Sir Gordon!by Jeremy Hetherington-Gore17/08/2012
Researchers in Shanghai have suggested that cooking may have been the cause of mankind's great cognitive leap forward 150,000 years ago. Eureka! Now we know why chefs get so famous, we can explain all those television programs. They are the onlie begetters of human superiority and braininess.
Researcher Philipp Khaitovich of the Partner Institute for Computational Biology in Shanghai notes that the sudden increase in brain-size that took place about two million years ago was made possible by better diet. But he points out that the larger brain didn't make us comparatively smarter until the cognitive spurt 150,000 years ago.
To understand what caused the cognitive spurt, Khaitovich and colleagues examined chemical brain processes known to have changed in the past 200,000 years. Comparing apes and humans, they found the most robust differences were for processes involved in energy metabolism. The finding suggests that increased access to calories spurred our cognitive advances, said Khaitovich, adding that definitive claims of causation are premature.
Many researchers have posited the development of the group as being both cause and effect of the increase in human brain-size and have speculated on the importance of hunters, 'the Fathers' (law-givers), story-tellers (historians), shamans (priests) and other specialized types of group member. How could we have forgotten the cooks, the most important of all?
Perhaps now society will begin to recognize the crucial part played by our cooks, instead of relegating them to popular television and the pages of Hello magazine.
Arise, Sir Gordon! An OM for Jamie, please! And look, here comes Dame Nigella, pan in hand.