In August of 2014, Dr. Peter Turchin of Cliodynamica published a blog post titled “Paleo Diet and Fire”. In it, he discusses Richard Wrangham’s book Catching Fire: How Cooking Makes Us Human. The article explores Richard Wrangham’s theory that the significant jump in the cranial capacity of Homo erectus and Homo sapiens was fueled by fire; specifically, the ability to cook underground roots and tubers.
A student of Dr. Cordain’s read the post and brought it to Dr. Cordain’s attention. Dr. Cordain disagreed with Wrangham’s hypothesis and reached out to Dr. Turchin to discuss the theory. Dr. Cordain argued that the ability to control fire came quite late in our evolutionary history, thus roots and tubers that need to be cooked for consumption should not be part of the Paleo Diet. Following the discussion, Dr. Turchin published a follow-up article titled “When Did Human Beings Start Using Fire? Wrangham versus Cordain”.
In the new article, Dr. Turchin countered that “any alternative to the Wrangham hypothesis would have to come up with an explanation of where the calories came from and, even more importantly, how early humans could afford to shrink their guts.”
After Dr. Turchin published the article, he invited Dr. Cordain to comment. Dr. Cordain crafted a thorough response, which is featured as a guest post on Dr. Turchin’s blog. Read Dr. Cordain’s full response here »