Anthropology Professor Featured in Documentary Series

Anthropology professor Sang-Hee Lee appears in a documentary series on human evolution produced in English and Korean by Korea Educational Broadcasting System, the Korean equivalent of PBS.

Lee was retained as the script consultant for “Lost Humans.” But her enthusiasm in describing the importance of meat and cooking in human evolution landed her a role in the film. As she cooks a steak and washes lettuce on camera, she describes how cooking food fueled brain growth.

“When you eat food raw, you get minerals and vitamins that are not destroyed by heat. As you heat food up, it becomes more dense and you eat more because you don’t have to chew as much. It requires less energy to chew,” she said. “Cooked food fueled brain growth because you could eat more and get additional energy from it.”

When humans started to grow grain, cooked cereal became important in evolution for weaning children from breast milk, she added. “When you breast feed intensively, there is no ovulation. If a baby can be weaned earlier, you could have babies every two years instead of four or five. That was critical to population growth.”

The two-episode series examines the lives and survival adaptations of prehistoric humans, from giants to dwarves and tree-dwellers to underground communities. “Lost Humans” won a Grand Remi Statuette Award for Best TV and Cable Production at WorldFest-Houston in April. WorldFest-Houston is the only film festival in the world with 10 major competition categories.

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