The Fire Ape

I've heard three theories about the primary impetus for the evolution of humans. A fourth seems like it should be just as important.


The zoologist Desmond Morris became famous after publishing the book "The Naked Ape" that proposed the primary influencer on human evolution was hunting. Thus, the killer ape theory became popular. And, I think it's a good one.

Also, there are the water theories about the swimming or wading ape. I think these are also good in their various versions. Alister Hardy proposed the basic idea of the aquatic ape in the 1960s and it seems like a decent idea. Jan Lindblad published a book on it that's never been translated into English that focuses on the idea of wading in rivers.

The key with humans is the unusual mental ability, and that's more of what the stoned ape theory tries to address. It's kind of crazy, but it seems like eating magic mushrooms could change the brain over time and might lead to something like an advanced imagination, which is a big part of what being human is.

I've never heard anyone propose that the primary factor was fire. Evidence of controlled fires goes back millions of years. Now that's crazy. That's a long time, and a long time before modern humans. Maybe fire was the primary factor. You have to keep the fire going and keep it under control. This requires cooperation and planning. It lessens the need for fur or hair, and it would probably be good to not have too much or you would catch on fire (as I have done). It allows you to cook meat which makes it easier to digest and can help kill bacteria. That could be part of why the human digestive system is so short. Not just because we're meat eaters, but because we are cooked meat eaters. You need to use tools to manipulate the fire or you'll burn yourself. The ends of pointy sticks become hardened in fire. Now you have tools and weapons. People congregate around the fire. Stories from the hunt are shared and evolve. It makes sense that fire would have a primary place in the discussion.

The ancient story of Prometheus stealing fire from the gods and granting the gift to man may be more true than we realize. Maybe fire truly is the thing that set mankind on a new path. The place of sacred fire in so many religions lends itself to the idea. Maybe the wise man, homo sapien, was made wise by the fire man, homo ignis or homo flamma.

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