When We Tamed Fire

  • Published: 10 April 2019
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    The ability to make and use fire has fundamentally changed the arc of our evolution. The bodies we have today were, in many ways, shaped by that time when we first tamed fire.

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    Alperson-Afil, N. (2008). Continual fire-making by hominins at Gesher Benot Ya ‘aqov, Israel. Quaternary Science Reviews, 27(17-18), 1733-1739.
    Barkai, R., Rosell, J., Blasco, R., & Gopher, A. (2017). Fire for a reason: Barbecue at middle Pleistocene Qesem cave, Israel. Current Anthropology, 58(S16), S314-S328.
    Berna, F., Goldberg, P., Horwitz, L. K., Brink, J., Holt, S., Bamford, M., & Chazan, M. (2012). Microstratigraphic evidence of in situ fire in the Acheulean strata of Wonderwerk Cave, Northern Cape province, South Africa. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 109(20), E1215-E1220.
    Blain, H. A., Agustí, J., Lordkipanidze, D., Rook, L., & Delfino, M. (2014). Paleoclimatic and paleoenvironmental context of the Early Pleistocene hominins from Dmanisi (Georgia, Lesser Caucasus) inferred from the herpetofaunal assemblage. Quaternary science reviews, 105, 136-150.
    Carmody, R. N., & Wrangham, R. W. (2009). The energetic significance of cooking. Journal of Human Evolution, 57(4), 379-391.
    Clark, J. D., & Harris, J. W. (1985). Fire and its roles in early hominid lifeways. African Archaeological Review, 3(1), 3-27.
    Gowlett, J. A. (2016). The discovery of fire by humans: a long and convoluted process. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 371(1696), 20150164.
    Gowlett, J. A., & Wrangham, R. W. (2013). Earliest fire in Africa: towards the convergence of archaeological evidence and the cooking hypothesis. Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa, 48(1), 5-30.
    Hlubik, S., Berna, F., Feibel, C., Braun, D., & Harris, J. W. (2017). Researching the nature of fire at 1.5 Mya on the site of FxJj20 AB, Koobi Fora, Kenya, using high-resolution spatial analysis and FTIR spectrometry. Current Anthropology, 58(S16), S243-S257.
    MacDonald, K. (2017). The use of fire and human distribution. Temperature, 4(2), 153-165.
    Pruetz, J. D., & LaDuke, T. C. (2010). Brief communication: Reaction to fire by savanna chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus) at Fongoli, Senegal: Conceptualization of “fire behavior” and the case for a chimpanzee model. American Journal of Physical Anthropology: The Official Publication of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists, 141(4), 646-650.
    Roebroeks, W., & Villa, P. (2011). On the earliest evidence for habitual use of fire in Europe. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(13), 5209-5214.
    Zink, K. D., & Lieberman, D. E. (2016). Impact of meat and Lower Palaeolithic food processing techniques on chewing in humans. Nature, 531(7595), 500.
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Comments • 1 373

  • Daniel Olsson
    Daniel Olsson  5 hours back

    Considering that all previous species of /HomonidsHumans could tame fire, I don't buy the whole idea that the the Sentineles people living on North Sentinel Island are unable to tame fire that most youtube video concerning them seem to indecate That they must wait for lightning to strike so they can enjoy a warm meal sound silly to me. As they are amongst the last uncontacted people to remain untouched by modern civilization and their violent, almost xenophobic way of rejecting any contact with the outside world, we know almost nothing about them at all. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Sentinel_Island

    • jeremy Mizer
      jeremy Mizer  21 hours back

      My uncle thought he could tame fire, now he looks like Freddy Krueger.

      • Warsin
        Warsin  23 hours back

        Homo *Erect*

        • Ron Purcell
          Ron Purcell  3 days back

          I love this series, just awesome.

          • Flávio Viana Gomide
            Flávio Viana Gomide  4 days back

            Science is hard to do, but it sparks a fire in my heart.

            • David Currie
              David Currie  4 days back

              How smart was homo erectus?

              • Justin Ceneviva
                Justin Ceneviva  5 days back

                When we started cooking food, we traded gut for brains.

                • denis njoroge
                  denis njoroge  5 days back

                  That is my country Kenya, I live about 116km away from the place. Thanks for educating us

                  • Dario Spirit
                    Dario Spirit  5 days back

                    When we gamed fire? Because the possibility that extraterrestrials passed it on is not an option? Really?

                    • Jay Wordplay
                      Jay Wordplay  5 days back

                      Make a video on how the ice age affected humanity

                      • Marcus Belanger
                        Marcus Belanger  6 days back

                        The TameFire update officially broke the Earth survival game. From that point forward humans were OP and needed a nerf that never came.

                        • Master Monkey
                          Master Monkey  6 days back

                          We? Bro youd be dead in minutes in the wild XD

                          • SUDHIR PATEL
                            SUDHIR PATEL  6 days back

                            Watch the movie: Quest For Fire.
                            Its free on YouTube.

                            • silver watcher
                              silver watcher  6 days back

                              Nifty to think I dont ever use fire. Microwave king. Whether that's a good thing or not, it's a factoid. Fastfood and restaurants I guess is the only place I'll eat with fire. Eat and be happy.

                              • Zeus Melendrez
                                Zeus Melendrez  6 days back

                                entertain this thought: what if what we know were staged by the so called “archeologist” dun dun dun duuhhhhhnnn 😳😳😳😂😂😂

                                • Shakti Singh
                                  Shakti Singh  7 days back

                                  Thank you for this great video

                                  • Mitch Wilson
                                    Mitch Wilson  1 weeks back

                                    It also seems possible that cooking began before we made use of fire. I don't think heating food with fire is required for cooking, although fire is obviously a big part of cooking as most of us know it today.

                                  • head crab droid king
                                    head crab droid king  1 weeks back

                                    Hank:now let's talk about fire

                                    Piromaiaks:I'm interested

                                    • Sharp Butt Beads
                                      Sharp Butt Beads  2 weeks back

                                      @pbs eons and hank. Fermentation, and domestication/symbiotic evolution with dogs/birds/cats, and herbalism

                                      • possum440
                                        possum440  2 weeks back

                                        Hank....can I call you Hank? "We" Haven't tamed fire. Those living beings capable of a thought, saw lava or lightning burning something or some Extraterrestrials at a cookout, took the item that was burning and through trial and error put together what burned and what would not, basically opportunistic fire gatherers, not tamers. Though a person with a bucket of water and a small fire could imply they were able to tame fire, that is still a reach.

                                        We "Utilize" fire for various needs, we have not tamed it...why? Well, I have yet to see a Human walk up to a burning building and snap their fingers and put it out and then say "good boy, good little fire!". Nor have I seen a firefighter walk up to a burning tree and with a wave of their hands, put it out.

                                        • rent a shill
                                          rent a shill  1 weeks back

                                          im not english native speaker
                                          but i think you are going too deeply into definition of word
                                          in my mind "to tame a fire" would mean to just control it
                                          you realized oh i put rocks around it and it doesnt spread
                                          i add wood and it burns more
                                          voila you "tamed a fire"

                                      • 0bvi0us Plant
                                        0bvi0us Plant  2 weeks back

                                        Such a dope episode

                                        • Alvaro Zendejas
                                          Alvaro Zendejas  2 weeks back

                                          Homonym or Hominid?????

                                          • Vince85
                                            Vince85  3 weeks back

                                            With fire, next came grill meat.

                                            • Lj Vahle
                                              Lj Vahle  3 weeks back

                                              I think Homo Ergaster made the first fire

                                              • yohan beck
                                                yohan beck  3 weeks back

                                                Hi I just found this channel, great stuff I subscribed. Question about the aim assisted hunting-spear the ancestral man used at 10:40. Could you tell me the name of that spear or innovation that led to it?

                                                • Daniel Sterling
                                                  Daniel Sterling  1 weeks back

                                                  I believe that is an "atlatl" or some form of it

                                              • Michael Glenn
                                                Michael Glenn  3 weeks back

                                                Yea, but it also lowers the caloric value of the food

                                                • rent a shill
                                                  rent a shill  1 weeks back

                                                  @Michael Glenn The total potential calories won't change much, if at all, but cooking allows you to absorb the calories much better. Cooking is one of our biggest evolutionary advantages over our cousins who are stuck eating only raw food. Some of them have to spend 8 hours a day just chewing. Cooking is a big win. Not to mention your corn will taste better and be easier to chew once it's cooked.

                                                • Michael Glenn
                                                  Michael Glenn  1 weeks back

                                                  @rent a shill As measured by a bomb calorimeter?

                                                • rent a shill
                                                  rent a shill  1 weeks back

                                                  process of cooking meat gelatinizes the collagen protein in meat, making it easier to chew and digest, so cooked meat has more calories than raw

                                              • Plm Mills
                                                Plm Mills  3 weeks back

                                                What do I major in college to be able to study this type of material??

                                                • Mzee Watk
                                                  Mzee Watk  3 weeks back

                                                  no known homo erectus in australia

                                                  • Mzee Watk
                                                    Mzee Watk  3 weeks back

                                                    Once a nerd, always a nerd. : )

                                                    • Christopher-tipstrum Leslie-Stanley

                                                      Planet of the apemen? Sounds familar?

                                                      • David Thomas
                                                        David Thomas  3 weeks back

                                                        That Homo Heisenberg was crazy.

                                                        • DocIncredible
                                                          DocIncredible  4 weeks back

                                                          One of the things that most annoyed me when reading Tarzan was the many times Tarzan expresses a preference for fresh bloody raw meat straight from the steaming carcass of a kill, and burying what he can't eat to save it for later. For some reason, this was the evolutionary inaccuracy (among many) that bothered me the most. It's like... Tarzan, no. Your gut spent a million years designing itself for the exact opposite of that.

                                                          A lot of the inaccuracies in Tarzan are behavioral. ERB, perhaps like many scientists of his day, believed in some inherent spark of humanity that would manifest itself independent of nurture. Tarzan invented SHAVING for God's sake. But this is probably his most prominent BIOLOGICAL inaccuracy.

                                                          • Jared Dreyer
                                                            Jared Dreyer  4 weeks back

                                                            This played on auto play and I thought I was listening to sci show

                                                            • j k
                                                              j k  1 months back

                                                              Thanks, Steve!

                                                              • Nebu Jin
                                                                Nebu Jin  1 months back

                                                                "When We Tamed Fire" - Spoiler: We have not yet :P

                                                                • A Ton Of Clay
                                                                  A Ton Of Clay  4 weeks back

                                                                  Nebu Jin The four hominids lived in harmony until one day, the fire nation attacked.

                                                              • jacob Taves
                                                                jacob Taves  1 months back


                                                                • W180 TSM
                                                                  W180 TSM  1 months back

                                                                  BIG BRAIN SMALL BRAIN

                                                                  • Not My Fault
                                                                    Not My Fault  1 months back

                                                                    We invent fire a few hundred thousand years ago...
                                                                    We accidentally burn for hundreds and thousands of years...
                                                                    And we still aren't umm... Immune?

                                                                    • Austin Starke
                                                                      Austin Starke  1 months back

                                                                      This actually marks the Fall of man

                                                                      • Linear Wolf
                                                                        Linear Wolf  1 months back

                                                                        Nah they just like cuddling a lot

                                                                        • tom payne
                                                                          tom payne  1 months back


                                                                          • Jeffrey T
                                                                            Jeffrey T  2 months back

                                                                            I think this channel is my favorite on YouTube. Keep up the hard work!!!

                                                                            • Aydın Bolat
                                                                              Aydın Bolat  2 months back

                                                                              i think the effect of fire on hominid brains is a bit execrated. elephants, dolphins and whales have great (actually more complex than ours) brains without fire. fire gives us more time and energy, but bigger brain?

                                                                              • vic owen
                                                                                vic owen  2 months back

                                                                                Carboniferous period please!!

                                                                                • Greer Poplin
                                                                                  Greer Poplin  2 months back

                                                                                  As species migrated it could have been advantageous to destroy the remains of any fire so no one else knew you had been through there. It seems hard to believe that any hominids survived in areas with winter temperatures without the use of fire.

                                                                                  • Christian Piette
                                                                                    Christian Piette  2 months back

                                                                                    Mushroom theory. But pbs doesn’t want to admit it. Mutations caused by psychoactive ingredients from eating psylobin mushrooms caused it

                                                                                    • Jexshot
                                                                                      Jexshot  2 months back

                                                                                      Maybe the Homo Erectus who made fire was Autistic and he had the urge to rub stick together. Create sound with sticks to scare animals.

                                                                                      • deadlyEuphoria420
                                                                                        deadlyEuphoria420  2 months back

                                                                                        what about the stoned ape theory then?