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AI image of early humans and the taming of fire. Source: Alla/Adobe Stock

How Taming Fire Changed Everything for Early Humans (Video)


The emergence of fire mastery represents a transformative juncture in human development, potentially initiated by early hominins like Homo erectus around 1.6 million years ago. Although the precise method of fire acquisition remains speculative, it likely involved the exploitation of natural phenomena before progressing to intentional ignition. Evidence from sites like Koobi Fora in Kenya and Gesher Benot Ya’aqov in Israel suggests deliberate fire use by hominins, possibly Homo erectus, evidenced by clusters of burned artifacts and heated stones indicative of controlled fires.

Moreover, the advent of fire revolutionized human sustenance and habitation strategies. Cooking, a significant innovation facilitated by fire, transformed the nutritional landscape by enhancing food digestibility and reducing toxin and pathogen risks. This increased caloric efficiency allowed for physiological changes, including smaller teeth, indicative of decreased reliance on heavy-duty chewing. Additionally, fire's thermal benefits enabled our ancestors to expand into colder climates, facilitating geographic migration and ecological diversification.

Despite uncertainties surrounding the timeline and mechanisms of fire adoption, its profound influence on human evolution is undeniable. The legacy of fire's taming persists in our anatomical features, dietary habits, and adaptive behaviors, underscoring its central role in shaping the human experience.

Top image: AI image of early humans and the taming of fire. Source: Alla/Adobe Stock

By Robbie Mitchell

Robbie Mitchell's picture


I’m a graduate of History and Literature from The University of Manchester in England and a total history geek. Since a young age, I’ve been obsessed with history. The weirder the better. I spend my days working as a freelance... Read More

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