Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Really Ancient Cooking

A couple years ago I read a book by Richard Wrangham called Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human. One key premise of the book is that human ancestor species mastered fire and cooking at a very early date - on the order of 1.8 million years ago. Until recently, the earliest evidence for fire and cooking under deliberate control dated to about 400,000 years ago. But researchers from the University of Toronto have published an article in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that provides evidence datable to 1 million years ago.

The evidence consists of plant ash as well as charred bones from a variety of animals ranging from small rodents to antelopes. Associated with the ash and bones were hand axes and other stone tools.

An article on CNN's Light Years Blog has an easily understandable version of the results as well as a link to to a Harvard study co-authored by Wrangham.

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