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In the course of anthropological history, several developments served to set humans apart from other mammals: Tools, language, and domestication all played an instrumental role in shaping our evolution. Now, Razib of Gene Expression reviews a recently published book, Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human, that argues that the ability to extract maximum energy from food through cooking was the crucial factor in making Homo sapiens the planet’s dominant species. In addition to releasing a greater number of calories per unit consumed, cooking also helped free up time and energy. “Instead of chewing for 3 or 4 hours, we simply cook for a time and we can chew the food with relative ease,” explains Razib. Ethan Siegel of Starts With a Bang agrees with the importance of cooking, but offers a few additional explanations for humans’ increased productivity.