silvertown1_Natasha Breen_REDA&CO_UIG via Getty Images Natasha Breen/REDA&CO/UIG via Getty Images

Evolution on the Menu

Everything people eat has an evolutionary dimension, but as the history of meat and milk consumption demonstrates, choice is often an overlooked factor. While biology has historically provided the potential for diversity in the human diet, it is culture that has written the menu.

EDINBURGH – While some diet books might suggest otherwise, nature has been very accommodating in its meal plan for Homo sapiens. Whereas other great apes, like gorillas and orangutans, are vegetarian (though some chimpanzees will eat monkey), evolution has made humans “omnivores” and left most culinary decisions up to us. So, when did evolution enable humans to eat meat? Two sources – our species’ family tree and the fossil record – offer clues.