Cook meal; pick teeth

Glenn Morton (
Tue, 17 Jun 1997 22:41:15 -0500

I have made note of lots of human activities which go far back into the
past. I just ran across the oldest proof of humans cooking a meal. Man is
the only creature who has tamed fire and is the only animal who uses that
fire to cook his meals. The oldest evidence of fire goes back to 1.0-1.5
million years ago at Swartkrans, South Africa (1.0-1.8 million years ago)
and from Chesowanja, Kenya (at 1.4 million years ago.) There are two early
examples of cooking, 465,000 years ago and Menez-Dregan in France, and at
Swartkrans, South Africa somewhere between 1 to 1.5 million years ago. Paul
G. Bahn writes:

"French archaeologists believe they have uncovered one of
the world's oldest fireplaces, some 465 000 years old, in
Brittany. These are by no means the oldest known traces of fire,
which date bate 1 to 1.5 million years in Africa (at Swartkrans
Cave in South Africa, experiments suggested that the burnt animal
bones had been cooked on a wood fire) but there is no proof that
the fire in early sites of this kind was truly controlled.
"The new French evidence comes from the site of Menez-
Dregan, a collapsed cave on the shore near Plouhinec (South
Finistere), which has been excavated for the past six years by a
team led by Jean-Laurent Monnier."~Paul G. Bahn, "Light My Fire,"
The Artefact, 18(1995):90

Bahn further writes that at Menez-Dregan:

"Analyses prove that the stones have been heated to more than 500
degrees Celsius, indicating that the fire must have been
carefully maintained."~Paul G. Bahn, "Light My Fire," The
Artefact, 18(1995):90

and further

"...but at the Breton site, the bones of rhinos and big wild cattle by the
fireplaces suggest that cooking was already in practice at this time." (ibid.)

So now we have cooking going long back into the past. But most
interestingly, is the fact that at the Swartkrans site, in the level with
the evidence for fire and cooking, the only fossils are of Australopithecus
robustus. It is mere assumption that some species of our genus was at the
site to handle the fire. For all we know, it might have been
Australopithecus cooking the food.

After a good meal, French or otherwise, men throughout the world, like to
pick their teeth. My grandfather used to enjoy sitting out on the back
porch, bourbon in hand picking his teeth after dinner. In China, men cover
their mouths with the empty hand while the hand using the tooth pick cleans
the teeth. Apparently, in China, it is impolite to allow one to expose the
private action of a toothpick in the mouth.

How long has man engaged in this simple human pleasure? Apparently as long
as he has been cooking. The long term use of toothpicks damages the teeth in
a very characteristic pattern. According to Juan Luis Arsuaga Ferreras,
such tooth damage was found on fossil from the 120-500,000 year old
archeological site of Sima de los Huesos. He writes:

"Several adult specimens, including skull 5, have grooves
worn in the roots immediately under the crowns of rear teeth.
This wear was apparently produced by the frequent use of
toothpicks. Similar grooves have been observed in modern humans
and other Homo fossils, the oldest in Ethiopian fossils dated
between 1.5 and 2 million years ago."~Juan Luis Arsuaga Ferreras,
"Faces from the Past," Archaeology, May/June 1997, p. 31-33, p.

Thus, mankind has been cooking and picking his teeth for well over 1 million
years. I know of no cases of animals using a tool to pick their teeth. While
actions like this do not prove the spirituality of fossil man, they do show
some very human-like behaviors which Christian apologists need to
incorporate into their view of fossil man.

Other references.

C. K. Brain and A. Sillen, "Evidence from the Swartkrans cave for the
earliest use of fire," Nature, 336, Dece. 1, 1988, p. 464-465

J. A. J. Gowlett, J. W. K. Harris, D. Walton and B. A. Wood, "Early
archaeological sites, Hominid Remains and Traces of Fire from Chesowanja,
Kenya," Nature, 294, Nov. 12, 1981, p. 128


Foundation, Fall and Flood