Discovery of Fire

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Hi, I am Kiwi Kawaii ^^ The control of fire by early humans was a turning point in the technological evolution of human beings. Fire provided a source of warmth and lighting, protection from predators (especially at night), a way to create more advanced hunting tools, and a method for … (read more)

Hi, I am Kiwi Kawaii ^^ The control of fire by early humans was a turning point in the technological evolution of human beings. Fire provided a source of warmth and lighting, protection from predators (especially at night), a way to create more advanced hunting tools, and a method for cooking food. These cultural advances allowed human geographic dispersal, cultural innovations, and changes to diet and behavior. Additionally, creating fire allowed human activity to continue into the dark and colder hours of the evening. Claims for the earliest definitive evidence of control of fire by a member of Homo range from 1.7 to 2.0 million years ago.

Before the advent of fire, the hominid diet was limited to mostly plant parts composed of simple sugars and carbohydrates such as seeds, flowers, and fleshy fruits. Parts of the plant such as stems, mature leaves, enlarged roots, and tubers would have been inaccessible as a food source due to the indigestibility of raw cellulose and starch. Cooking, however, made starchy and fibrous foods edible and greatly increased the diversity of other foods available to early humans. Toxin-containing foods including seeds and similar carbohydrate sources, such as cyanogenic glycosides found in linseed and cassava, were incorporated into their diets as cooking rendered them nontoxic.

Cooking could also kill parasites, reduce the amount of energy required for chewing and digestion, and release more nutrients from plants and meat. Due to the difficulty of chewing raw meat and digesting tough proteins (e.g. collagen) and carbohydrates, the development of cooking served as an effective mechanism to efficiently process meat and allow for its consumption in larger quantities. With its high caloric density and store of important nutrients, meat thus became a staple in the diet of early humans.

By increasing digestibility, cooking allowed hominids to maximize the energy gained from consuming foods. Studies show that caloric intake from cooking starches improves 12-35% and 45-78% for protein. As a result of the increases in net energy gain from food consumption, survival and reproductive rates in hominids increased.


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