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Otters Oddities

I feel like chicken tonight, like chicken tonight!

Anyone else feel like chicken? Maybe fried...or roasted! Ooohh...I love roasted chicken! You get the bird, which is delicious, plus you get the pan drippings to make gravy. And then, you get the leftovers to shred up to make chicken sammiches. Gah! I'm making myself hungry.....


But how many of you would cook like the photo above? Raise your hands....wimps. I've done it. OK, not exactly like that. I've suspended the flat stone over the fire with other stones, but the concept is the same. And it can make for some tasty food.

And that's what todays post is about. Cooking and fire.

It's only been in the last 250 years or so that people have been able to cook without getting ashes into their food. Prior to the 1750's, most cooking was done over open fire. And it had been done that way for hundreds of thousands of years.

But, when exactly did man start cooking his food?

Your guess is as good as mine. Well, no. My guess is probably a little better than yours is. But I have the advantage of knowing all the facts you have yet to read. So, read on McDuff!


We know humans and our ancestors have been using fire for quite some time. In the beginning, it was captured fire. That is, fires that were started naturally, and kept going by man. Early man would actually transport red-hot coals from place to place, moving their fire with them.

Some experts say man only learned how to make fire 150,000 years ago. Other say it was 400,000 years ago.


All that changed a few years back.

A cave in South Africa was found where humans, and our more ape-like ancestors have lived. For the last two million years. Before the discovery of the cave, the earliest know use of fire was about 800,000 years ago. Evidence of fire was found in the cave dating back 1 million years.


But what stunned archeologists was, when they examined the ash, they found charred animal bones in it.

They tested the ash and determined the wood had burned at ~1,200 degrees. That's hotter than a wild fire, and the right range for a camp fire. And examining the ash showed it hadn't been carried in on the wind at some point in the past. That means early man was cooking meat in this cave 1 million years ago.


The cave? It's called Wonderwerk. And not only has it provided us with one of the earliest human habitats, it also has provided us with the earliest verifiable cooking done by humans.

Note I said 'verifiable'. Other caves have yielded evidence of fires where food was cooked that date back as far as 1.5 million years ago. However, they can't say without a shadow of doubt that the fire evidence hadn't been washed in by floods or wind.


So, if you ever get to South Africa, go visit Wonderwerk. Even if it bores you to tears, you'll make otter insanely jealous.

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