. Earth Science News .

Scientists find evidence that human ancestors used fire one million years ago
by Staff Writers
Toronto, Canada (SPX) Apr 05, 2012

This is the surveying area outside Wonderwerk Cave, South Africa. Credit: L. Milosavljevic.

An international team led by the University of Toronto and Hebrew University has identified the earliest known evidence of the use of fire by human ancestors. Microscopic traces of wood ash, alongside animal bones and stone tools, were found in a layer dated to one million years ago at the Wonderwerk Cave in South Africa.

"The analysis pushes the timing for the human use of fire back by 300,000 years, suggesting that human ancestors as early as Homo erectus may have begun using fire as part of their way of life," said U of T anthropologist Michael Chazan, co-director of the project and director of U of T's Archaeology Centre.

The research will be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on April 2.

Wonderwerk is a massive cave located near the edge of the Kalahari where earlier excavations by Peter Beaumont of the McGregor Museum in Kimberley, South Africa, had uncovered an extensive record of human occupation.

A research project, co-directed by U of T's Chazan and Liora Kolska Horwitz of Hebrew University, has been doing detailed analysis of the material from Beaumont's excavation along with renewed field work on the Wonderwerk site.

Analysis of sediment by lead authors Francesco Berna and Paul Goldberg of Boston University revealed ashed plant remains and burned bone fragments, both which appear to have been burned locally rather than carried into the cave by wind or water. The researchers also found extensive evidence of surface discoloration that is typical of burning.

"The control of fire would have been a major turning point in human evolution," says Chazan.

"The impact of cooking food is well documented, but the impact of control over fire would have touched all elements of human society. Socializing around a camp fire might actually be an essential aspect of what makes us human."

Related Links
University of Toronto
All About Human Beings and How We Got To Be Here

Get Our Free Newsletters Via Email
Buy Advertising Editorial Enquiries


. Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Burtele Foot Indicates Lucy Not Alone
Washington DC (SPX) Apr 05, 2012
A new fossil discovery from Eastern Africa called the Burtele foot indicates Australopithecus afarensis, an early relative of modern humans, may not have been the only hominin to walk the plains and woodlands of what is now the Afar region of Ethiopia some 3.4 million years ago. Researchers openly have questioned whether Au. afarensis, the species to which the famous fossil "Lucy" belongs, ... read more

Radioactive fluid leaks at French nuclear reactor

Fukushima leak may have flowed into Pacific: TEPCO

Japan passes $1.1 trillion budget

At least eight dead in Nairobi landslide

Court revives Viacom copyright suit against YouTube

Google gives glimpse of Internet glasses

Handover of Japan-built Radar to NASA

New understanding of how materials change when rapidly heated

What the future of water means to business

Chilean court approves huge Patagonia dam

Declines in Caribbean coral reefs pre-date damage resulting from climate change

New comparison of ocean temperatures reveals rise over the last century

Rising CO2 levels linked to global warming during last deglaciation

Thawing permafrost 50 million years ago led to global warming events

Thawing permafrost may have led to extreme global warming events

In blow for sceptics, carbon dioxide ended last Ice Age

New forage plant prepares farmers for climate changes

Farmers Use GIS Technology for a Growing World

Is rainfall a greater threat to China's agriculture than warming?

Worst rains in 14 years wash out Ecuadoran farmers

US forecasters see drop in 2012 Atlantic hurricanes

Typhoon-strength storm kills two in Japan, brings chaos

New seismic hazard assessment for Central America

Typhoon-strength storm brings travel chaos to Japan

Angola marks 10 years since end of civil war

Angola celebrates 10 years of end to civil war

West Africa fears of drug terrorism links

Angola's boom economy leaves many behind, 10 years after war

Scientists find evidence that human ancestors used fire one million years ago

Newly Discovered Foot Points to a New Kid on the Hominin Block

Burtele Foot Indicates Lucy Not Alone

Are we really a nation of animal lovers?

Memory Foam Mattress Review

Newsletters :: SpaceDaily Express :: SpaceWar Express :: TerraDaily Express :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News


The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2012 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement