‘Quest for deliciousness’: How hunger for tasty food drove human evolution

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Credit: Mauricio Anton/Science Source
Credit: Mauricio Anton/Science Source

Human evolution and exploration of the world were shaped by a hunger for tasty food – “a quest for deliciousness” – according to [ecologist Rob Dunn and medical anthropologist Monica Sanchez in their book Delicious: The Evolution of Flavor and How it Made Us Human.]

Ancient humans who had the ability to smell and desire more complex aromas, and enjoy food and drink with a sour taste, gained evolutionary advantages over their less-discerning rivals, argue the authors of a new book about the part played by flavour in our development.

Some of the most significant inventions early humans made, such as stone tools and the controlled use of fire, were also partly driven by their pursuit of flavor and a preference for food they considered delicious, according to the new hypothesis.

“This key moment when we decide whether or not to use fire has, at its core, just the tastiness of food and the pleasure it provides,” [said Dunn.]

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Having a portfolio of tools that they could use to find tasty things to eat gave our ancestors the confidence to explore new environments, knowing they would be able to find food, whatever the season threw at them. “It really allows our ancestors to move out into the world and do new things.”

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