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Episode 09: Did Cooking Make Us Human? (Re-release)

Humans have evolved very differently from other primates. Is there one thing responsible for humans becoming human? Some evolutionary biologists think that the way we process our food, namely cooking it, could explain why our species developed so differently from others. Did cooking make us human? Dr. Richard Wrangham of Harvard University and Dr. Rachel Carmody of UCSF and Harvard discuss the impact that cooked food has had on human evolution.

This episode of Origin Stories was produced by Briana Breen and edited by Audrey Quinn. Music by Henry Nagle.

Thanks to Richard Wrangham and Rachel Carmody for sharing their work.

Being Human

This re-released episode includes a new Being Human bonus segment. Being Human was a joint initiative of The Baumann Foundation and The Leakey Foundation, dedicated to understanding modern life from an evolutionary perspective.

Special thanks to Lily Mazzarella of Farmacopia for talking with us about her work for the Being Human segment.

Episode Links

Richard Wrangham’s Harvard University Website

Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human

Smithsonian Magazine “Why Fire Made Us Human”

Rachel Carmody’s Nature article: Diet rapidly and reproducibly alters the human gut microbiome

The Leakey Foundation

Origin Stories is a project of The Leakey Foundation. The Leakey Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to human origins research and outreach. Learn more at


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