From the ashes, the oldest controlled fire | Science News


Science News is a nonprofit.

Support us by subscribing now.


From the ashes, the oldest controlled fire

South Africa cave yields earliest evidence of human ancestors lighting blaze

4:16pm, April 2, 2012

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.

Berna’s team regards its data as the oldest secure evidence for controlled fire use. The ashes and charred bone — unearthed earlier in Wonderw

This article is only available to Science News subscribers. Already a subscriber? Log in now.
Or subscribe today for full access.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content