Jun 26, 2019 | Updated: 09:24 AM EDT

Early Humans Learned to Cook 120,000 Years Ago

May 20, 2019 05:53 PM EDT

Early human history (book illustration)
(Photo : The Nature Box)
Early human history (book illustration)

120,000 years ago, anatomically modern humans were feasting on plants such as those from rhizomes and tubers at the Klasies River Cave in the southern Cape of South Africa. Scientists have found charred food remains from hearths.

The international team of archaeologists has published new research that provides archaeological evidence that has previously been lacking to support the hypothesis where there has been an increased starch diet and the duplication of the starch digestion genes is an adaptive response to it.

Lead author Cynthia Larbey from the department of archaeology at the University of Cambridge expressed their excitement as the genetic and biological evidence previously suggested that early humans would have been eating starches.

The study proves that plants and fire played an important role in the lives of the middle stone age humans.

The interdisciplinary team searched for undisturbed hearths at the archaeological site by Klasies river.

Larbey stated that their study results have shown that the small ashy hearts were used for cooking food and starchy roots and tubers, which were part of the middle stone age communities' diet.

Principal investigator of the site, Professor Sarah Wurz from the school of geography, archaeology and environmental studies at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa or Wit University stated that the research shows that early human beings followed a balanced diet and that they were ecological geniuses. This group of early human beings was able to exploit their environment intelligently to supply themselves with food and possibly with medicine.

The scientist explained that the early group of humans has combined cooked roots and tubers as a staple with protein and fats from small and large fauna, shellfish and fish. This proves that early human beings have ecological intelligence at as early as 120,000 years ago.

Larbey pointed out that their research has reinforced that starch diet is not something that started only as human beings started to discover farming. She later added that farming in Africa only started 10,000 years ago.

The early humans that settled in the said area lived in groups or small bands.

Wurz stated that there is evidence from Klasies River that shows humans living in the time period look like modern humans of today but are somewhat more robust.

The Klasies River is known to be a very famous early human occupation site. It is located on the Cape Coast of South Africa.

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