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Hangry March 14, 2020 No hammer stone required

Simmering and braising bone-in short ribs in bone broth feeds your expensive brain, helps maintain insulin sensitivity, and you don’t need a hammer stone to get at the bone marrow.

Jess Thompson talks about Pliocene-era “Lucy” and argues that Lucy was not wanting meat, but wanting fat, specifically marrow bone. (Using a hammer stone to smash bone marrow, not a flake stone to cut meat.) A pounding tool to get at the good stuff, to smash open marrow.

The University of Chicago Press headlines their press release about the study: “Humans may have emerged from scavenging big game, eating brains and marrow.”

“In ‘Origins of the human predatory pattern: The transition to large animal exploitation by early hominins,’ published in the February 2019 issue of Current Anthropology, Jessica C. Thompson, Susana Carvalho, Curtis W. Marean, and Zeresenay Alemseged challenge the longstanding paradigm in anthropology that stone tools and meat-eating directly preceded the emergence of humans, arguing that our existence may instead be owed to our earlier ancestors consuming brains and marrow as they scavenged big game.

“We offer a new and testable hypothesis that simple hammering tools sparked our involvement with large-bodied prey more than 3.2 million years ago – by unlocking the fat stored within their bones,” Thompson writes.”
“Drawing from the most up-to-date archaeological data as well as chimpanzee ecology, Thompson and her co-authors offer a new theory about big game consumption among humans’ closest ancestors. They propose that their earliest encounters eating large game were not reliant on knife-like “flake stone” tools, nor were they eating much, or any, meat off bones. Instead, they consumed large animals as scavengers of the parts other scavengers couldn’t easily access, eating inside-bone nutrients — marrow and brains — by breaking through bones with percussive tools.

“Large animals, with their easily digestible and calorically rich fat and protein, are thought to have been partly responsible for humans evolving larger brains and bodies than other primates. Brains and marrow are the fattiest body parts on lean wild game and are the precursor to fatty acids important to eye and brain development. This is an important factor, Thompson writes, when weighing the costs and benefits of meat-eating versus inside-bone eating in East Africa 3.5 million years ago. She also notes that inside-bone nutrients take much longer than outside-bone nutrients do to rot. “This undoubtedly extended the amount of time it persisted in a fresh state, thus increasing encounter rates relative to edible flesh and decreasing risk from carnivores that remain near fresher kills,” she writes.”

The University of Michigan Health System says, “Bone marrow fat tissue secretes hormone that helps body stay healthy.”

“It has been known for its flavorful addition to soups and as a delicacy for dogs but bone marrow fat may also have untapped health benefits, new research finds. Researchers find that with calorie restriction, a less-studied fat tissue releases adiponectin, which is linked to reduced risk of diseases like diabetes.
“A University of Michigan-led study shows that the fat tissue in bone marrow is a significant source of the hormone adiponectin, which helps maintain insulin sensitivity, break down fat, and has been linked to decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity-associated cancers. The findings appear in today’s online-ahead-of-print issue of Cell Metabolism.”

The University of Chicago Press. (2019.) From

Thompson, J. (2019.) “Fat of the land: What ancient bones tell us about the origin of the human diet | Jess Thompson ASU Jan 18, 2019

University of Michigan Health System. (2014.) From From


I’ve adapted a recipe from

Red Wine-Braised Short Ribs / Christopher Testani

YIELD Makes 6 servings


5 pound bone-in beef short ribs, cut crosswise into 2″ pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons vegetable oil [make it olive oil, tallow or lard]
3 medium onions, chopped [I used half an onion]
3 medium carrots, peeled, chopped [I used 1.5 carrots]
2 celery stalks, chopped [I used one]
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour [not needed, don’t use it]
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 750-milliliter bottle dry red wine (preferably Cabernet Sauvignon) [save a glass for yourself!]
10 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
8 sprigs thyme
4 sprigs oregano
2 sprigs rosemary
2 fresh or dried bay leaves
1 head of garlic, halved crosswise
[I didn’t use herbs, it’s flavourful enough with out them]
4 cups low-salt beef stock [use home-made or store-bought bone broth instead]


Preheat oven to 350°F. Season short ribs with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Working in 2 batches, brown short ribs on all sides, about 8 minutes per batch. Transfer short ribs to a plate. Pour off all but 3 tablespoons drippings from pot. [no, don’t pour off healthy fats that keep your insulin sensitive]

Add onions, carrots, and celery to pot and cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until onions are browned, about 5 minutes. Add flour [no flour, it’s yucky] and tomato paste; cook, stirring constantly, until well combined and deep red, 2-3 minutes. Stir in wine, then add short ribs with any accumulated juices. Bring to a boil; lower heat to medium and simmer until wine is reduced by half, about 25 minutes. Add all herbs to pot along with garlic. Stir in stock. Bring to a boil, cover, and transfer to oven.

Cook until short ribs are tender, 2-2 1/2 hours. Transfer short ribs to a platter. Strain sauce from pot into a measuring cup. Spoon fat from surface of sauce and discard [do not discard brain-building fats!]; season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Serve in shallow bowls over mashed potatoes [no spuds required] with sauce spooned over.

Cooks’ note:
To test if the ribs are done, pull on a bone. It should slide out freely.


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