Neanderthals were nifty at controlling fire

Here is an interesting study which purports that European Neanderthals used fire a lot more than previously expected – Deskarati –

A new study involving the University of Colorado Boulder shows clear evidence of the continuous control of fire by Neanderthals in Europe dating back roughly 400,000 years, yet another indication that they weren’t dimwitted brutes as often portrayed.

The conclusion comes from the study of scores of ancient archaeological research sites in Europe that show convincing evidence of long-term fire control by Neanderthals, said Paola Villa, a curator at the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History. Villa co-authored a paper on the new study with Professor Wil Roebroeks of Leiden University in the Netherlands.

“Until now, many scientists have thought Neanderthals had some fires but did not have continuous use of fire,” said Villa. “We were not expecting to find a record of so many Neanderthal sites exhibiting such good evidence of the sustained use of fire over time.”

A paper on the subject was published in the March 14 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Neanderthals are thought to have evolved in Europe roughly 400,000 to 500,000 years ago and went extinct about 30,000 years ago. Neanderthals ranged over much of Europe and stretched to Central Asia. Neanderthals were stockier than anatomically modern humans and even shared the same terrain for a time, and there is evidence that contemporary humans carry a small amount of Neanderthal DNA. Modern humans began migrating out of Africa to Europe some 40,000 years ago.

Archaeologists consider the emergence of stone tool manufacturing and the control of fire as the two hallmark events in the technological evolution of early humans. While experts agree the origins of stone tools date back at least 2.5 million years in Africa, the origin of fire control has been a prolonged and heated debate.

via Neanderthals were nifty at controlling fire: study.

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One Response to Neanderthals were nifty at controlling fire

  1. alfy says:

    Well, isn’t this a puzzle. Our nearest related species, Homo neanderthalensis was tramping round Europe 400, 000 years ago, lighting fires and having outdoor barbies and burgers. How did they get out of Africa so quickly? Perhaps they had also invented the package jet holiday as well, when our silly buggers of ancestors, Homo sapiens were still stuck in Africa up to just 40, 000 years ago.

    There is something very strange about this chronology. What does our man at the Natural History Museum have to say about the idea of neanderthalers, but not sapiens in Europe 400, 000 years ago?

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