Ash found in a South African cave hints that humans were cooking with fire one million years ago.
The discovery is the earliest evidence yet found for use of this revolutionary technology, say the researchers behind the finding. But some experts caution that more proof is needed before we conclude that humans were cooking regularly at this date.
It is not possible to say for certain which species of hominin inhabited the cave one million years ago, but the team believes it was probably Homo erectus.
A million years. It boggles the mind to think of how much history happened that is lost to memory. Around 70,000 years ago the human population shrank to less than 15,000 individuals following the Toba supervolcano. We know that a great cataclysm happened 12,000 years ago when an asteroid struck somewhere in the north American area, wiping out the Clovis people and large fauna. Given how fast human civilization and culture has developed since the last great asteroid strike, it seems difficult to accept that similar progress did not happen in earlier times, with subsequent ice ages grinding all traces of those earlier civilizations to dust.