Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from November, 2012

Human vs. chimps: What the "regulome" tells us about meat eating & bigger brains

The story about how humans evolved bigger brains begins some seven million years ago in central Africa. There, in a dense rainforest, there lived the last ancestor that we share with our closest living relatives. Our evolutionary paths diverged when the global climate changed and a new habitat took shape. While ancestors of chimpanzees retreated deeper into the rainforest to subsist on a diet mainly of fruits, our ancestors found themselves in on strange, new, dry grassland.

The savanna would mean a new way of life for our ancestors. They'd learn to use tools, communicate with each other using language, and work together to hunt animals for food. Based on fossil evidence and stable isotope data, our hominin ancestors shifted to a diet where meat was a principal energy source about two million years ago. It would be a major shift in diet that coincided with an increase in cranial capacity.

Now, scientists like Greg Wray, a professor of biology at Duke University, are beginning to bet…

Food is "star stuff"

"If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe."

When you eat a slice of apple pie, or any pie, or any food at all today, on Carl Sagan Day, it may be worthwhile to reflect on this quote, one of the beloved television series host's most famous from Cosmos: A Personal Voyage.

A look back at our origins is a good way to gain some perspective, amidst the accumulating scientific evidence, on how to understand our own biology and predicting ways in which we can keep our own healthy. Or, at least, that has been my conclusion. Starting at the beginning with the chemistry of life, our own evolution, and to that of our close cousins, then on to our current situation, and the future, this blog has explored all sorts of topics relating to diet and health in the past and forthcoming.


Over the years, what's evident is that there exist numerous ongoing debates in the world of food, nutrition, and medicine. Some are scientific and some are not so…

Why lemurs get sick: A lesson for humans, too