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The Pyrophilic Primate

Photo Credit: James F. O'Connell

NEW HYPOTHESIS BY UNIVERSITY OF UTAH RESEARCHERS EXPLAINS HOW HUMAN ANCESTORS USED FIRE TO THEIR ADVANTAGE

A new scenario crafted by University of Utah anthropologists proposes that human ancestors became dependent on fire as a result of Africa’s increasingly fire-prone environment 2-3 million years ago. As the environment became drier and natural fires occurred more frequently, ancestral humans took advantage of these fires to more efficiently search for and handle food. With increased resources and energy, these ancestors were able to travel farther distances and expand to other continents. The study was funded by the National Science Foundation and the findings were published April 8, 2016 in Evolutionary Anthropology.

Christopher Parker, anthropology postdoctoral research associate at the U is the paper’s first author, and Kristen Hawkes, distinguished professor of anthropology at the U is the paper’s senior author. Parker and Hawkes conducted the research with University of Utah anthropology doctoral candidate Earl Keefe, postdoctoral research associate Nicole Herzog and distinguished professor James F O’Connell.

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Last Updated: 11/28/16