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Scientists have found it The best-known evidence of cooking at an archaeological site in Israel.
The shift from eating raw to cooked food was a dramatic turning point in human evolution, and the discovery has suggested that prehistoric humans were capable of deliberately making fire to cook food at least 780,000 years ago.
The At the Gesher Benot Ya’aqov site, detailed examination of fish teeth located on the shores of ancient Lake Hula revealed some of our earliest ancestors: The author of the study said that they were probably able to cook Homo erectus – fish. Irit Zohar, researcher at Tel Aviv University’s Steinhardt Museum of Natural History.
The inhabitants of the lake dined on a large freshwater species, according to the Zohar, which also a Curator of the Beit Margolin Biological Collections of the Oranim Academic College.
No human remains were found at the site, but stone tools are consistent with those found at Homo erectus sites in Africa, Zohar said. He said the lake would be shallow, and large fish such as the extinct Luciobarbus longicep could be easily caught by hand.
“This is an incredibly important discovery,” said archeological geochemist Dr. Bethan Linscott, who was not involved in the research.
“Evidence for the controlled use of fire in the early Stone Age … is ephemeral at best, and as a result the evidence of anthropogenically (influenced by human activity) cooked fish remains described here will undoubtedly have a significant impact on the research community,” he said. Linscott, who is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.
The change eating cooked meals meant expending humans less energy About the intensive work of foraging and digesting fresh, raw foods to release more time to develop new social and behavioral systems.
“Diet has had a great influence on the evolution of our species. Meat consumption in particular has been suggested to have helped increase the relative brain size of our Homo ancestors, but pathogenic bacteria make the consumption of uncooked meat a risky business,” said Linscott.
“Cooking, however, kills the bacteria and increases the energy value of the meat, creating a new and reliable food source for the first hominins. Understanding when this happened is therefore a matter of great interest, and why our hominin ancestors evolved the way they did.” because it can be helpful to explain what they had.”
The research was published Monday in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.
Zohar’s previous research, which he has worked on At the site for 16 years, they found that the sedimentary layers where stone tools were found – suggesting human occupation – were associated with a large number of fish teeth of two particular species of the carp family (Luciobarbus longiceps and Carasobarbus canis). but now gone.
However, there were very few fish bones, which, unlike teeth, soften and decay easily at high temperatures. Other work by Nira Alperson-Afil, a professor in the Israel studies and archeology department at Bar-Ilan University, identified the remains of hearths, some of the first outside of Africa.
To determine whether the prehistoric inhabitants of the site actually cooked the fish there and did not just throw the fish remains into the fire, the researchers identified changes in the size of the enamel crystals in the teeth, which respond differently to changes in temperature.
In the experiments, Zohar and collaborator Dr. Jens Najorka, manager of the X-ray laboratory at London’s Natural History Museum, examined 56 prehistoric and freshwater fish teeth to identify changes caused by low and high cooking. the temperatures The results suggest that the fish was cooked at temperatures between 392 and 932 degrees Fahrenheit (200 and 500 degrees Celsius).
“We don’t know exactly how the fish were cooked, but since there is no evidence of exposure to high temperatures, it is clear that they were not cooked directly in the fire and were not thrown into the fire as waste or burning material.” Najorka said in a news release.
Furthermore, the team was able to determine that fish was a regular part of the diet; they were not a seasonal delicacy or a last resort when other food sources were scarce. The researchers analyzed the geochemical composition of the oxygen and carbon isotopes in the tooth enamel to determine the season in which the fish died. The results suggested that they were cooked and eaten throughout the year.
Homo erectus was the first hominid to migrate out of Africa, and the study suggested that the ancient Lake Hula may have been a key place on the route of these early migrations.
Exactly humans first he started cooking fish or any other kind of food unknown, and there is no consensus on when ancient hominids developed the ability to start and cook fire. Until this study, the first hard evidence for the use of fire came from Neanderthals and Homo sapiens, who cooked starchy roots around 170,000 years ago in South Africa.
The cumulative weight of evidence presented in the study suggested that the fish had been cooked, said John McNabb, a professor at the Center for the Archeology of Human Origins in the University of Southampton’s department of archaeology. He did not participate in the study.
“When and where deliberately lit, controlled fire first appeared, and when we started cooking our own food, are two of the big questions researchers of human origins have long sought answers to,” he said by email.
“Fire is not just security and protection. It extends the working day and provides a really important mechanism for social bonding – we literally built our societies around our fires. Cooking opens up new dietary options and brings new foods into the fold, as well as increasing the nutritional potential of what we eat. Cooking was the reason Homo erectus was able to move into strange new territories.