Neanderthals clearly made regular controlled use of fire. The timing is less clear and the evidence is less definitive for the immediate archaic hominin predecessor of Neanderthals, but it isn't entirely clear where to draw that line.
The evidence for Homo Erectus is much patchier. There are two or three instances that suggest isolated sites where fire was used on a controlled basis, but the evidence is not nearly so clear or pervasive in H. Erectus sites as it is in Neanderthal sites.
ere is some light reading for you. I know you will find it fascinating, if you haven't already seen it:
I've read all of the abstracts of that issue of Current Anthropology so far, but haven't had time to dig into the open access articles like that one and to do some analysis of it. I am pretty interested in what the articles have to say. The Japan article looks particularly good as does the genetics one. Some of them aren't initially as compelling looking.
If you copy that link over it should lad directly to 'Homo sapiens in the Eastern Asian Late Pleistocene'. Very long, but interesting article.
Abstract: "Recent fossil and genetic data poses new questions about the degree of variability of the Late Pleistocene fossils from China and the possible interaction of modern humans with other archaic hominins. This paper presents a general overview of the variability of the dental fossil record from some key Late Pleistocene localities in China. Our study reveals that despite having similar chronologies, not all the samples present the same suite of derived traits. This finding may reflect complex demographic dynamics with several migrations and dispersals and/or a degree of population substructure similar to that described for the African continent. Simple and linear models to explain the origin and dispersals of Homo sapiens seem to be progressively outdated by the new fossil, demographic and genetic evidence. In addition, we warn about genetic admixture as a possible source of morphological variability and we hypothesize that some skeletal features of Homo floresiensis and Denisovans could be related to their hybridization with other hominin groups".
@terryt That is actually one of the the articles I found less interesting because it is a review of articles that I've already read and examined (and blogged) in some depth and I'm not very impressed with the quality of the analysis and also have some doubts about the quality of the actual fieldwork and measurements made in those cases.
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