Our ancestors used fire a million years ago, study says
NY DailyNews, 03-04-2012
When did our ancestors first use fire? That’s been a long-running debate, and now a new study concludes the earliest firm evidence comes from about 1 million years ago in a South African cave. The ash and burnt bone samples found there suggest fires frequently burned in that spot, researchers said Monday.
Over the years, some experts have cited evidence of fire from as long as 1.5 million years ago, and some have argued it was used even earlier, a key step toward evolution of a larger brain. It’s a tricky issue. Even if you find evidence of an ancient blaze, how do you know it wasn’t just a wildfire? The new research makes “a pretty strong case” for the site in South Africa’s Wonderwerk Cave, said Francesco Berna of Boston University, who presents the work with colleagues in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
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