When We Tamed Fire

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  • Published on: 09 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.

    Produced in collaboration with PBS Digital Studios: http://youtube.com/pbsdigitalstudios

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    References:
    http://humanorigins.si.edu/evidence/human-fossils/species/homo-erectus
    http://humanorigins.si.edu/evidence/human-fossils/species/homo-heidelbergensis
    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.
  • Runtime : 12:57
  • dinosaurs dinos paleo paleontology scishow eons pbs pbs digital studios hank green john green complexly fossils natural history fire hominins Kenya Koobi Fora campfires cooking food Africa Dmanisi migration wonderwerk cave Paranthropus boisei humans human evolution

COMMENTS: 40

  • Lewis Charley
    Lewis Charley   16 hours ago

    I think the realisation of making our own fire would more likely have come from making stone tools, as there are metals in the rock and they will have been looking for different rocks and smashing them together to make tools you will get sparks.. if you put one and one together and see fire naturally you will identify this can make fire and if you get something dry (like what we see with forest fires or dry grass land fires) we could start our own it’s that simple. I think using fire came much earlier over two million years I would say

  • That Mask I Wear
    That Mask I Wear   23 hours ago

    Wait but didn't the Neanderthals make fire...and we joined them and they showed us their ways..

  • Max Ravenwood
    Max Ravenwood   5 days ago

    2:00 Hank was just waiting to make a fire pun, wasn't he?

  • Spencer Holloway
    Spencer Holloway   6 days ago

    Y'know, the lack of fossils could just mean that it was a safe site for people, just sayin'.

  • Wu Li
    Wu Li   1 weeks ago

    South Africa has evidence that early homonids where foraging along the coast, eating a wide variety of sea food that appears to have inspired them to make better stone tools. It could be that, ironically, people needed to find paradise before they invented better weapons and mastered fire.

  • Sophisticated Slut
    Sophisticated Slut   1 weeks ago

    Would buy merch but I’m not spending 30 bucks on a tee😂🤡

  • Sjorben
    Sjorben   1 weeks ago

    whats the difference between an ancient fire and a fire other than the fact that its fire that was burning very long ago?

  • Lee Brown
    Lee Brown   1 weeks ago

    What if we tamed speed of light instead of Fire?

  • anglojojo
    anglojojo   1 weeks ago

    You should add theory in your title, unless you claim to have been there to witness it?

  • Freeda Peeple
    Freeda Peeple   1 weeks ago

    I believe I said it before, but I'll say it again: Dang, Hank, you even make the commercials watchable! ...and I HATE commercials!

  • Andrew Mayo
    Andrew Mayo   1 weeks ago

    isnt there still a place where the people havent figured out fire yet?

  • Jerry Wiese
    Jerry Wiese   2 weeks ago

    Considering the routine usage of fire by hominids .Probably first was the continual tending of a camp fire originating from a wild fire .Then possibly the sparks from making stone tools setting some dry grass on fire .Or the recognition that lightning starts fires and that sparks sort of resemble lightning .But how did they ever determine that the frictionfrom rubbing wood sticks together could start a fire ?Where they routinely doing something with wood tools that would cause that much friction ?

  • Atomic Half Lives Matter

    stone tools would allow access to bone marrow not accessible to some other animals which is high octane brain food. that allowed for increased brain deployments which meant the comprehension of fire and leading to even greater brain development would sound like the most logical sequence of events to me

  • Damon Bryan
    Damon Bryan   2 weeks ago

    I've accidentally caught my mat on fire while flint napping. Can't help but to think that's how it all started. With making fire. It's one of those answers that will be forever lost in time.

  • Angry Lemur05
    Angry Lemur05   2 weeks ago

    Fire gets started:Molecules: I’m sorry were breaking up

  • Sean Fowler
    Sean Fowler   2 weeks ago

    Wouldn't those instances of repeated fire be more indicative of an abandonment of nomadic life and adoption of a more residential lifestyle? Perhaps that's why the tracking for fire is so odd, because the one-off instances of fire that would be undertaken by a nomadic species would not stand the test of time in terms of evidence, but a repeated instance in the same permanent residence would?

  • Lord Habitaxe of Prydonia

    From making campfires to cook raw meat to lazily popping in a breakfast burrito in the microwave...

  • WethePeople.
    WethePeople.   3 weeks ago

    The big paradox here is when did we lose fear of fire ?

  • Nugsy Malone
    Nugsy Malone   3 weeks ago

    not that I want to do it, but curious what the baby would be like if I or any modern man went back in time and impregnated a neanderthal. From one extreme to the other, mixing

  • NorthernChev
    NorthernChev   3 weeks ago

    I would be more inclined to believe fire was FIRST used by early man (with respect to food) to remove the hair and feathers from carcasses thus easing consumption rather than actual full-on cooking. I would suppose cooking came much later in our evolutionary timeline.

  • Francis Marcoux
    Francis Marcoux   3 weeks ago

    The only cultural trait that is not shared with any other animal is fire using. These homenides are our direct ancesters. Language abd too making are sharedcwith other species.

  • Mark Cross
    Mark Cross   3 weeks ago

    All this has happened before and all of this will happen again......BSG.

  • ToMiCo 91
    ToMiCo 91   3 weeks ago

    This video makes my genus erectus.

  • Adam Sanders
    Adam Sanders   4 weeks ago

    "Stoned Ape Theory"... I know it's not currently scientific, but dammit, it's a fascinating hypothesis.

  • brian godinez
    brian godinez   4 weeks ago

    So.. if we would have never started using fire with food, we would be able to eat raw meat ?

  • Halfdanr Hamarrhjarta

    I'm wondering who were the first hominids to give themselves individual names.

  • Darkrajin
    Darkrajin   1 months ago

    uneducated opinion It wouldn't surprise me if fire was not a learned act from tool making. Likely at some point, some ancestor was making a flint tool, and that may have caused sparks which might have started a small fire. Later that same ancestor, or one watching, probably deliberately tried replicating what caused the fire, and the rest is history. It could also be plausible that learning to create fire in this manner could have been independently learned by multiple species. I do wonder though, when did the use of clothing first start?

  • shanna
    shanna   1 months ago

    Hey it's Hank, he starts with commercials then begging, goodbye Hank. You got my attention for 10 seconds. And that's all you will get

  • Makamba Pretu
    Makamba Pretu   1 months ago

    QUESTION: The abbreviation PBS what does it stand for? Public Broadcast System? The PBS channel they have/had in the US subsidized by the government? Or is it something completely different? And once at it what is Eons?

  • Barbara Vick
    Barbara Vick   1 months ago

    If any have ever seen the movie, Quest for Fire starring Ron Perlman, it is about this very thing. Capturing and storing fire from a lightening strike (they did so in a horn) as they hadn't a clue how to start one themselves.Another thing I found odd in the presentation, was a fellow using an atlatl, supposedly before folks had learned to make fire. I doubt that seriously.

  • Azure Pulse
    Azure Pulse   1 months ago

    This video is made of the same stuff that made me love pbs nature documentaries and other pbs shows while growing up as a kid in the 90's. Thank you so much!

  • Gitana Maldita
    Gitana Maldita   1 months ago

    I think when they first made fire was shocking like the discovery of nuclear fision in Los Alamos.