Early man and fire

SailingCyclops wrote:

otseng wrote: Please show evidence of fire being in use in the last million years.

There’s quite a bit of evidence:

I think stating that there’s “quite a bit of evidence” is overstating your case.

Evolution of Fire

The use of fire has long been thought to have coincided with, and perhaps aided in the precipitation of, the evolution of modern human culture and language around forty thousand years ago. That is, up until last year, when two controversial studies were released that brought this long held notion into question. These new findings suggest that not only might fire have been put to intentional use by humans as far back as 1.6 million years …
[…] Last April, this question was answered by Brian Ludwig of Rutgers University.
After studying forty thousand pieces of flint tool artifacts, ranging from 1 to 2.5 million years old, from sites throughout Africa, Ludwig found some surprising results. When rocks have been exposed to heat, they develop telltale signs of heat exposure, in the form of observable “potlid fractures�. After studying his tool artifacts, Ludwig discovered that the artifacts he was studying started to show these small fractures only after about 1.6 million years (McCrone, 2000). This finding suggests that by that time, H. erectus was not only using campfires regularly, but also hunting and possibly even cooking tools.

Tools older than 1.7 million years ago would be Mode One tools, which consist of stone pebble tools. If flint tool artifacts were found older than this, it would not fit into the normal tool evolutionary timeframe.

Also, the supposed “potlid fractures” would not be any hard evidence of fire use. First, why would flint tool artifacts be placed in fire? Especially since Acheulean (biface) tools were not hafted? And they could also have been heated by natural fires. Or fractures could be from their normal wear and tear, rather than by fire.

Human evolution, fire, and food

… In spite of the fact fire use becomes spottier the farther back in the historical record you go, Wringham maintains that this clutch tool could have triggered the cascade. In fact, it is interesting to note that evidence for the use of fire –spotty though it may be- goes as far back as 1.6 millions years to about the time H.erectus appeared.

Yes, spotty though it may be.

Also, I currently believe that H.erectus were human (though I do not hold that they existed millions of years ago). So, equating H.erectus with fire would not be out of the question for me.

Did homo erectus discover fire?

The homo sapiens mental revolution took place between 100,000 and 40,000 years ago, following the development of grammatical speech. But Homo erectus was pretty smart already judging by evidence that fire had been discovered over 1.6 million years ago. Could fire really have been such an early discovery?
[…] New evidence, however, suggests that human exploitation of fire may be quite incredibly ancient, going back some 1.6 million years. Recently developed forensic techniques are strengthening the case that some long-disputed fire remains found in Kenya, East Africa, were indeed kindled by our ancestors.
[…] At both sites, archaeologists found the bones and stone tools of Homo erectus–the first hominid species to have a markedly larger brain and fully human-proportioned body. At Koobi Fora, the excavations also uncovered a scattering of ten small, half-metre diameter, “lenses” of baked orange earth dating to around 1.6 million years ago.

Another interesting quote from your source:

Within palaeoanthropological circles, there will be many fingers crossed hoping the latest findings just aren’t true. This is because hominid control of fire at 1.6 million years poses huge problems for current thinking about human evolution. The story goes that technologically sophisticated humans arrived with a “big bang” only about 40 000 years ago, with the development of grammatical speech. If the very early date for the control of fire holds up, then either we have to believe that kindling a roaring blaze is essentially–indeed literally–a pretty dumb skill. Or else we must be willing to upgrade the mental abilities of our forebears rather considerably.