Re: Earliest evidence of fire question

5 Aug 1996 22:15:40 GMT

sgf ( wrote:
: In article <4tqhes$>,
: HARRY R. ERWIN <> wrote:
: >Tom Zaranek ( wrote:
: >: My friend (does not have email access) is looking for any information
: >: regarding the earliest evidence of fire by the hominid.
: >
: >As I've mentioned before, Lee Talbot argues on ecological grounds for
: >about 3 MYr BP. He points out that almost all brushfires in East Africa
: >are started by man, and that the open savannah in East Africa is only kept
: >open by burning. Hence evidence for extensive open savannah (3 MYr BP in
: >East Africa) is evidence for burning and so for human use of fire. Of
: >course, he's an ecologist, so what does he know?

: Except, perhaps, for the open fires started by lightning?

: (Although I lived in the Serengeti Park for two years and, at least
: around *us*, no lightning started fires. But that doesn't mean that it
: didn't some time in the past 3 MY.)

Lee checked that. He saw plenty of grass fires, but almost all man-caused.
The issue did come up when he challenged the received wisdom back in the
'50s. The problem with depending only on lightning is that regrowth is
then much greater, and good-sized trees are fire-resistant.

: --Stephanie

: --
: <*>
: "Assiduous and frequent questioning is indeed the first key to wisdom ...for
: by doubting we come to inquiry; through inquiring we perceive the truth..."
: --Peter Abelard (..........I claim this .sig for Queen Elizabeth)

Harry Erwin, Internet:, Web Page:
49 year old PhD student in computational neuroscience ("how bats do it" 8)
and lecturer for CS 211 (data structures and advanced C++)