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 • 1 365

  • Flávio Viana Gomide
    Flávio Viana Gomide  20 hours back

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

    • David Currie
      David Currie  2 days back

      How smart was homo erectus?

      • Justin Ceneviva
        Justin Ceneviva  2 days back

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

        • denis njoroge
          denis njoroge  2 days back

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

          • Dario Spirit
            Dario Spirit  2 days back

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

            • Jay Wordplay
              Jay Wordplay  3 days back

              Make a video on how the ice age affected humanity

              • Marcus Belanger
                Marcus Belanger  3 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  3 days back

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

                  • SUDHIR PATEL
                    SUDHIR PATEL  3 days back

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

                    • Zeus Melendrez
                      Zeus Melendrez  4 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  4 days back

                        Thank you for this great video

                        • Mitch Wilson
                          Mitch Wilson  5 days 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  1 weeks back

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

                            • possum440
                              possum440  1 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  5 days 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  2 weeks back

                                  With fire, next came grill meat.

                                  • Lj Vahle
                                    Lj Vahle  2 weeks back

                                    I think Homo Ergaster made the first fire

                                    • yohan beck
                                      yohan beck  2 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  7 days back

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

                                    • Michael Glenn
                                      Michael Glenn  2 weeks back

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

                                      • rent a shill
                                        rent a shill  4 days 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  5 days back

                                        @rent a shill As measured by a bomb calorimeter?

                                      • rent a shill
                                        rent a shill  5 days 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  2 weeks back

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

                                      • Mzee Watk
                                        Mzee Watk  2 weeks back

                                        no known homo erectus in australia

                                        • Mzee Watk
                                          Mzee Watk  2 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  3 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  4 weeks back

                                                    Thanks, Steve!

                                                    • Nebu Jin
                                                      Nebu Jin  4 weeks 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  1 months back

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

                                                                  • Aydın Bolat
                                                                    Aydın Bolat  1 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  1 months back

                                                                      Carboniferous period please!!

                                                                      • Greer Poplin
                                                                        Greer Poplin  1 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  1 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?

                                                                              • Francis Lim
                                                                                Francis Lim  2 months back

                                                                                Before fire management by humans,we were eating raw foods like all living things and animals,we certainly do not eat raw bloody smelling raw meats,Imagine us killing an animal oozing in blood?its completely turn us off,even after millions of years of evolution,we are designed to eats raw fruits and vegetables,we chew foods and sucks water like all herbivores does,ever heard these ,2 fruits and 5 veggies for health?

                                                                                • Snake
                                                                                  Snake  2 months back

                                                                                  Next video "When we invented anime"

                                                                                  • veronicats100
                                                                                    veronicats100  2 months back

                                                                                    Nice work! Enjoyed the video, not to mention that it is very informative.

                                                                                    • Barrett
                                                                                      Barrett  2 months back

                                                                                      Thanks Prometheus, you were a head of your time.

                                                                                      • superguy X
                                                                                        superguy X  2 months back

                                                                                        A time traveler handed out bio degradable lighters