For our early human ancestors in Africa, nighttime was anything but the right time. On moonless nights, lions and other large predators could readily stalk resting humans and attack virtually unseen. But eventually early humans discovered a clever way to frighten off large carnivores and solve a host of other problems: they tamed fire. With a small blaze lighting the darkness, humans could ward off the cold, cook hot dinners and gather together and socialize around hearths.
But when did humans first domesticate fire? New research at Wonderwerk Cave in South Africa suggests that our ancestors succeeded in kindling fires 1 million years ago –200,000 years earlier than previous evidence suggested.
To read my news story on this for ScienceNow, please click here.
Photos courtesy of M. Chazan.