1.5 Million – 400,000 Years Ago: Fire Power

At some point in history there had to be one initial crucial step that separated humans from the other animals in our journey to becoming the dominant species on this planet.  I will call that point the beginning of science and label it by humans ability to control fire.

Sometime in our ancestor’s very ancient past, and certainly by 400,000 years ago, fire came under human control.  Fire was beneficial for a variety of novel reasons including providing protection from predators, warmth allowing for people to live in colder regions, tool making, ceremonial usage, the ability to see at night time, and the ability to cook food.

Cooking food may have been a significant step in leading humans to the top of the food chain and even to increasing brain size, although hominid brain size was increasing before cooked food became common in early humans.  In any case, what is indisputable is that cooking food killed the parasites that infested food, allowing for easier digestion.  This enabled humans to make due with smaller teeth and shorter intestines.  It is hypothesized that a smaller intestine was the factor in allowing for a larger, jumbo brain of sapiens and Neanderthals, since both the brain and the digestive tract are two are the largest energy consuming organ systems in the body.  By shortening the digestive tract it enabled the energy economy of the body to devote more resources to a jumbo human brain.

The campsite is also believed to have functioned as a “nest” for our ancestors and therefore played a pivotal role in the evolution of our sociability.  All animals that exhibit sociability have a nest, which allow for a common place for the species to gather and stay at.

This entry was posted in History of Science and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *