prehistory

How sugar molecules secretly shaped human evolution

Sugar. How it has changed us. There is a speech i cherish from the seventh Doctor Who, storyline Remembrance of the Daleks, (the anniversary episode) which goes :
JOHN: Hmm? Your tea. Sugar?
DOCTOR: Ah. A decision. Would it make any difference?
JOHN: It would make your tea sweet.
DOCTOR: Yes, but beyond the confines of my tastebuds, would it make any difference?
JOHN: Not really.
DOCTOR: But
JOHN: Yeah?
DOCTOR: What if I could control people’s tastebuds? What if I decided that no one would take sugar? That’d make a difference to those who sell the sugar and those that cut the cane.
JOHN: My father, he was a cane cutter.
DOCTOR: Exactly. Now, if no one had used sugar, your father wouldn’t have been a cane cutter.
JOHN: If this sugar thing had never started, my great-grandfather wouldn’t have been kidnapped, chained up, and sold in Kingston in the first place. I’d be a African.
DOCTOR: See? Every great decision creates ripples, like a huge boulder dropped in a lake. The ripples merge, rebound off the banks in unforeseeable ways. The heavier the decision, the larger the waves, the more uncertain the consequences.
JOHN: Life’s like that. Best thing is just to get on with it.

See? Life’s like that, and as it turns out, more than we think.

Three million years ago, a gene mutation switched off a sugar-making enzyme in early hominids. Our ancestors actually became unable to breed with those who still had the enzyme, possibly causing the emergence of our evolutionary grandparent, Homo erectus.

via How sugar molecules secretly shaped human evolution.