Monday, 10 September 2007

BBC headline writer clueless

OK folks, what's wrong with this headline?

BBC NEWS | Health | Potato 'fuel of human evolution'

Yes, human evolution occurred in Africa, whilst the potato was happily growing in the Americas.

The story is better, the main results are summarised as:
Compared with primates, humans have many more copies of a gene essential for breaking down calorie-rich starches, Nature Genetics reports.

And these extra calories may have been crucial for feeding the larger brains of humans, speculate the University of California Santa Cruz authors.
So it might be the ability to digest starch that was important.

Perhaps it's also worth pointing out that the author might have been writing for an African audience. I recently found out that what is usually called a potato in Europe and the Americas is called an Irish potato in Africa (or at least some parts of it). This is to distinguish it from other potatoes such as the sweet potato.

EDIT: the headline has now been changed to "Starch 'fuel of human evolution'". I guess someone else pointed out the absurdity too.

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