WorldÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Oldest Campfire is 1,000,000 Years Old, Maybe
Where were you roughly one million years ago? Probably nowhere, but your and my ancestors may have been around a campfire, trying to keep warm, cook food, and scare off predators. These ancestors would not have looked much like us though, as there are a few species between Homo erectus (the species who likely would have built the fire) and Homo sapiens (modern humans).
Researchers have found what they believe to be is evidence of a campfire in South Africa from roughly one million years ago. The thin sections the researchers took were placed under a microscope where bone fragments and plant ashes were found. The researchers claim this proves the remnants could not have moved to the site from a nearby forest fire. The bone fragments also tell us that the fire would have been a relatively low 450-750 ºC, which is reasonable for a campfire.
Of course, with such old evidence and the first use of fire something of great interest to many scientists, these recent claims are being challenged. For example, one researcher points out that no evidence of the sediment being heated was reported. Obviously if there were a fire, the ground on which it sat would have been heated. Even if this turns out to be the remnants of a natural fire, instead of something man-made, the use of a microscope to examine the remnants is a new, and something which may lead to more discoveries in the future.