Wrangham’s hypothesis is more robust and subtle than this essay can do justice to, but I will survey some of the findings, implications, and controversy. Raw food has various nutritional properties that are superior to cooked food, such as vitamins, but because cooked food provides more digestible calories for humans than raw food, it represented an evolutionary advantage. Meat, starches, and seeds are far more digestible when cooked, and are much easier to chew. Today, chimps in will not eat raw seeds of trees, but when a fire passes through the savanna, they search the ground below the trees and eat their cooked seeds.
Were the dramatic changes in a result of cooked food, or was Turkana Boy as his species became hunters instead of hunted, and the stone tools softened up the meat and plant foods so that he did not need to chew as much? Wrangham co-authored a that began with . It concluded that food processing, cooking in particular, accounted for the effect. Cooked food versus raw food and the number of neurons that can be supported in a brain has been . The primary reason why Wrangham’s hypothesis was initially dismissed was that archeological evidence for fires that long ago is almost nonexistent. When was published, the earliest evidence with wide acceptance only supported fires , where Israel is today, which is more than a million years after Wrangham’s estimated timeframe. Wrangham did what all bold scientists do: he made falsifiable predictions. If it turned out that no evidence of early fires was ever found, his hypothesis could begin looking shaky.
First and foremost, I have a difficult time imagining that could have slept on the ground without something to keep Africa’s predators at bay, and . I doubt that slender apes, much smaller than humans, swinging sharpened rocks and sticks at saber-toothed cats, hyenas, and the like (or throwing them) would have done much to scare them off. Those days predated spears, arrows, and other sophisticated weapons by more than a million years. The strongest plausible deterrent is fire, and I doubt that was simply vigilant and the sentry awoke everybody when the cats came and they all scrambled up trees (or lived in large enough groups so that they could mass attack any predators). Those apes certainly could not have outrun them. Cats are ambush predators, and woodland apes sleeping on the ground would have likely been easy meat. Without fire, would have been in the same situation as its ancestors, going back tens of millions of years: they slept in trees and other lofty refuges so that predators could not attack them. But all animals respect and fear fire. Fire is the ultimate protection and weapon for humans, even to this day.
About a quarter-million years after Oldowan culture began, a new species appeared called , named by Louis Leakey in 1964. Whether is really the first member of the human genus has been debated ever since. As with all of its primate ancestors, was adapted for tree climbing. Virtually , especially those in Africa. Silverback gorillas are about the lone exception, along with some isolated chimps. certainly slept in trees. The predators of African woodlands and grasslands have been formidable for millions of years, and predators of in those days included , , and . Night camera footage is readily available on the Internet today showing the nighttime behaviors engaged in by hyenas, lions, and others. The African woodlands and plains are extremely dangerous at night, just from roving predators, not to mention being stumbled into by elephants, rhinos, and water buffalos. Today’s African hunter-gatherers sleep around the campfire to keep predators and interlopers at bay; a sentinel keeps watch as everybody sleeps in shifts through the twelve-hour nights. They are safer from predation at night in camp than they are in daytime as they roam.
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Other than humans, rhesus macaques are Earth’s most widespread primates, and both species are generalists whose ability to adapt has been responsible for their success. Rhesus macaques are , about twice that of dogs and cats, and nearly as much as chimpanzees. Rhesus macaques have what is called Machiavellian social organization, in which everybody is continually vying for rank and power is everything. Those with rhesus power get the most and best food, the best and safest sleeping places, mating privileges, the nicest environments to live in, and endless grooming by subordinates, whom the dominants can beat and harass whenever they want, while those low in the hierarchies get the scraps and are usually the first to succumb to the vagaries of rhesus life, including predation. It is the . But even the lowliest macaque will become patriotic cannon fodder if his society faces an external threat, as even a macaque knows that a miserable life is better than no life at all. The violence inflicted seems economically optimized; within a society the violence is mostly harassment, but when rival societies first come in contact, the violence is often lethal, as the initially established dominance can last for lifetimes. Within a society, killing a subordinate does not make economic sense, as that subordinate supports the hierarchy. Potentates rely on slaves. The human smile evolved from the teeth-baring display of monkeys that connotes fear or submission.
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That winter, my first tasks when arising were turning on my computer and drinking a glass of orange juice, which raised my blood sugar. After some hours of reading about world events, answering emails, and working on my writings, I took a hot shower, dressed, and walked to a bus stop. I read a book while awaiting the bus that took me to downtown Bellevue, where I worked in a high-rise office building for an Internet company.
Camping and Sleeping Bags Essay.
When I resumed my career in 2003, I became an early riser and consequently went to bed by 9:00 PM on most nights, and often read fantasy literature before I turned out the lights and snuggled into bed (with two comforters in the winter to keep us warm as we sleep).