Scientists Just Discovered the First-Ever Cooked Meal

Evidence was found at an archeological site in Israel

Grilled fish at Lankasta hotel road eatery ready to be served to customers during Eid-Ul-Fitr celebrations in Eastleigh
Fish was on the menu for our ancient ancestors
SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

When ancient people learned to cook with fire instead of eating all of their food raw, it was a massive turning point in human evolution. And a new discovery can tell us about the food that was the first cooked meal. According to CNN, scientists at the Gesher Benot Ya’aqov site near the ancient lake Hula in Israel unearthed and studied fish teeth, which revealed that our predecessors were able to cook the aquatic animals. Study author Dr. Irit Zohar — a researcher at Tel Aviv University’s Steinhardt Museum of Natural History — said that stone tools were also found at the site (suggesting humans inhabited the area), and the lake’s shallow waters would have allowed them to catch large fish by hand. 

“Diet has had a big impact on the evolution of our species,” archaeological geochemist Dr. Bethan Linscott told CNN. “It has been suggested that the consumption of meat in particular contributed to the increase in relative brain size of our early Homo ancestors — but pathogenic bacteria make the consumption of uncooked meat a risky business. Cooking, however, kills bacteria and increases the energetic value of meat — thereby creating a new, reliable food source for early hominins.”

The fish teeth are thought to be from two extinct species, Luciobarbus longiceps and Carasobarbus canis, which were part of the carp family. The research, published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution, also indicated that the fish were likely cooked between 392 and 932 degrees Fahrenheit and eaten year-round, rather than seasonally. 

The research can’t tell us exactly how the fish was cooked, but it’s likely that smoke and fire were involved — which is making us hungry for grilled red snapper.


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