The association between our ancestors and fire, somewhere around four to six million years ago, had a tremendous impact on human evolution, transforming our earliest human ancestor, a being communicating without speech but with insight, reason, manual dexterity, highly developed social organization, and the capability of experimenting with this new technology. As it first associated with and then began to tame fire, this extraordinary being began to distance itself from its primate relatives, taking a path that would alter its environment, physiology, and self-image.
Based on her extensive research with nonhuman primates, anthropologist Frances Burton details the stages of the conquest of fire and the systems it affected. Her study examines the natural occurrence of fire and describes the effects light has on human physiology. She constructs possible variations of our earliest human ancestor and its way of life, utilizing archaeological and anthropological evidence of the earliest human-controlled fires to explore the profound physical and biological impacts fire had on human evolution.
"With great detail and concise arguments, this well-sourced work will fascinate armchair scientists with an interest in anthropology and evolution." (Publishers Weekly)
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More than Fire
I think the author went off on a few tangents that were not necessary or beneficial to providing more points for the importance of fire in human evolution. It seems like there were a few chapters focusing on fire itself while the others filled in some more details about human evolution like the importance of language and the environment in which adaptations occurred.
Spoiler Alert: humans evolved!
Clear but dry
I'm not sure about a follow-up book but the concepts can definitely expand as more archaeological evidence is found.
As a student of anthropology I found this book to be insightful into a field I want to work in. It is by no means a tell all in human evolution but it does look at a small sliver of what lead to the modern human. It is obvious that fire was important but concepts like the impact on melatonin production in the body was a concept I found very interesting.
- Jeff Harris