, Volume 40, Issue 2, pp 114-117

Human nutrition: Evolutionary perspectives

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In recent decades, much new evidence relating to the ape forerunners of modern humans has come to hand and diet appears to be an important factor. At some stage, there must have been a transition from a largely vegetarian ape diet to a modern human hunting economy providing significant amounts of meat. On an even longer evolutionary time scale the change was more complex. The mechanisms of evolutionary change are now better understood than they were in Darwin's time, thanks largely to great advances in genetics, both experimental and theoretical. It is virtually certain that diet, as a major component of the human environment, must have exerted evolutionary effects, but researchers still have little good evidence.

Reprinted from Ucko, Peter J. and G. W. Dimbleby (eds.).The Domestication and Exploitation of Plants and Animals. Aldine.