Allen S. Maller

You are what meat your teeth eat

Almost all of the world’s religions stress the importance of diet. With the exception of Christianity, all the world’s oldest and most influential religions strongly advocate that humans should pay serious attention to what they eat, and especially to what (meat) they should not eat.

For modern humans, a religious diet is for the purpose of developing and enhancing their spiritual and moral capacities. But for the dozen or more pre-human species that preceded us; diet, as evidenced by steadily declining tooth size, influenced physical evolution.

Indeed, one might say that modern humans (Homo Sapiens) physically became humans when the pre-human species in the genus Homo changed their physical diet and their teeth followed suit. That prepared humans to be able to realize the religious values of a dietary discipline.

Paleoanthropological researchers have recently discovered an important characteristic of the members of the pre-human lineage, classed as the genus Homo. They are the only primates where, throughout the 2.5-million year history of their pre-human genus, the size of their teeth has decreased inversely to the increase in their brain size, as a result of how Homo’s diet has evolved.

Digestion starts first in the mouth, so teeth are essential in breaking food down into smaller pieces. The normal scenario would be that if the brain grows in size, the body’s metabolic needs will also grow; and so the teeth should grow.

A change in diet, incorporating a higher amount of animal food (meat), must have been one of the keys to this phenomenon of steady diminishing tooth size. The quality leap in Homo’s diet, through a greater intake in animal proteins, fats and certain olio-elements, is essential for the correct working and maintenance of the ‘growing in size’ brain.

And a larger brain allows for greater social, cultural and eventually religious development, which leads to important technological innovations.

In order to validate this theory, the researchers evaluated the relationship between the size of post-canine teeth and the volume of the endocranium in a wide set of primates, including the main representatives of Homo fossils.

“Before we started the study, it was well known that, throughout the evolution of humans, tooth-size diminished and brain-size increased.

We have established that they are two opposing evolutionary trends that have been linked for 2.5 million years, when our early pre-human ancestors within the Homo genus first appeared on the evolutionary stage.”

The ability of more recent pre-human Homo species to use fire to cook meat, which began more than one half million years ago, was an important contribution to the process. Once Homo Sapiens had reached the level of incorporating religious art, music and ritual into their social and personal lives; the three last pre-human species that had existed on earth for tens of thousands of years, died out. Only humans survived by the skin of their teeth. (Job 19:20)

About the Author
Rabbi Allen S. Maller has published over 850 articles on Jewish values in over a dozen Christian, Jewish, and Muslim magazines and web sites. Rabbi Maller is the author of "Tikunay Nefashot," a spiritually meaningful High Holy Day Machzor, two books of children's short stories, and a popular account of Jewish Mysticism entitled, "God, Sex and Kabbalah." His most recent books are "Judaism and Islam as Synergistic Monotheisms' and "Which Religion Is Right For You?: A 21st Century Kuzari" both available on Amazon.
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