Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

Living Edition
| Editors: Todd K. Shackelford, Viviana A. Weekes-Shackelford

Brain Evolution Resulting from Cooking

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_2951-2



Cooking as a potential explanation for the evolution of the disproportionately large human brain.


The disproportionately big human brain is a conundrum – it is larger than would be expected for a primate of our size, and it is a very energetically expensive organ. Since human basal metabolic rate (BMR) is not elevated to match such a big brain, the extra energy needed to sustain it suggests a dietary explanation. Feeding the large brain would likely require a shift to a high-quality diet: one comprised of energy-rich, easily digestible foods. This hypothesis is supported by a number of anatomical features: smaller teeth, jaws, stomachs, and a shorter large intestine. Two key elements of human subsistence – cooking and meat eating – have been proposed as a possible means of achieving this high-quality diet.

Encephalization and Trade-Off Theories

The human line has experienced a remarkable increase in brain size...

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Human Evolution and Social ChangeArizona State UniversityTempeUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Justin H. Park
    • 1
  1. 1.University of BristolBristolUK