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The era of human evolution is inseparable from the evolution of fire, according to Arizona State University School of Life Sciences Regents’ Professor Stephen Pyne.
In an article published May 5 in Aeon, Pyne chronicles how humanity fought against nature’s ice ages to make the age of fire we currently live in. From the time Homo Erectus discovered how to create fire to its modern role in fueling the world, Pyne’s detailed narrative stresses the element’s essential nature.
“Fire changed us, even to our genome,” Pyne writes. “We got small guts and big heads because we could cook food. We went to the top of the food chain because we could cook landscapes. And we have become a geological force because our fire technology has evolved that we have begun to cook the planet. Our pact with fire made us what we are.”