Humans' First Use of Fire May Not Be So Long Ago

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Fire, scientists agree, helped give rise to a successful, thriving human population by providing heat for cooking and protection from the cold.

But they don’t agree exactly when humans began using fire. Some researchers argue that it occurred more than a million years ago when early humans made their way to Europe from Africa, and others say it happened much later. Now, a new study argues that humans did not master fire until about 400,000 years ago.

Two archaeologists, Wil Roebroeks of Leiden University in the Netherlands and Paola Villa of the University of Colorado Museum in Boulder, report their findings in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The pair looked at excavation reports and studies from 141 sites in Europe that were between 1.2 million and 35,000 years old....

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