Michael Medler, a geographer at Western Washington University, believes that humanity owes its intelligence of using fire to volcanoes. According to the LiveScience report, heat from volcanoes helped early humans to learn how to eat cooked food. It also helped our ancestors to understand the importance of living closer to the warm volcanoes. That is how early humans discovered fire.
Scientists proposed that early humans got access to the fire and warmth thanks to the volcanoes. Once humans could feel the good taste of cooked food, and feel the pleasant effect of warm places, they may have developed intelligence to use that heat routinely for their daily life.
According to the scientists, mainly lava flows were the crucial way for early humans to access the heat. This process started approximately 2-3 million years ago. It is interesting to think that how early humans could start and maintain the fire millions of years ago.
Realize this: you put yourself in the middle of a wilderness and try to start a fire from anything that is available to you. Unless you are an experienced survival expert, making fire by rubbing sticks would take a whole day. Plus, early humans did not have an intelligence that modern humans have. Therefore, the whole situation of starting and maintaining fire by early humans is unlikely, according to Michael Medler.
In Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, Michael Medler and his colleagues experienced the effect of being closer to the volcano. They could sleep in cozy spots where underground volcanic activity heats the earth’s surface. They even could cook their food using nearby hot springs.
According to Michael Medler’s own words, “I spent three or four snowy nights without tents, sleeping, cooking and being completely comfortable. That had me thinking: What would that mean to somebody 2 million years ago — to a Homo erectus or an Australopithecus — to discover there’s a spot where you can hang out and be warm enough and cook food”
When the locations of the ancient lava flows and hominin fossils were mapped. Medler found that hominin sites were close to the lava flows.
For instance, the most ancient hominin sites are in the African Rift Valley, where African continental plate slowly split in two through volcanic activity.