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From the ashes, the oldest controlled fire

South Africa cave yields earliest evidence of human ancestors lighting blaze

A 1 million-year-old fire lit by human ancestors has flickered back to life in a South Africa cave.

Microscopic plant ashes and burned bone bits in Wonderwerk Cave come from soil that previously yielded several dozen stone tools, say archaeologist Francesco Berna of Boston University and his colleagues. A member of the Homo genus, perhaps Homo erectus, made a fire that produced those remains, the researchers write April 2 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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