Prehistoric Fire Extinguished

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So, where's the fire? According to archaeologists writing in the journal Science Friday, it's not in the caves of Zhoudoudian, China. What was previously thought to be a 500,000-year-old fireplace there turns out to lack the tell-tale traces of wood ash. That leaves us with no evidence that our distant ancestor Homo Erectus had any idea how to set the world alight. Which is a problem, because Homo Erectus is supposed to have been busy colonizing the coldest climes of Asia back then. How on earth did he do it without a way to keep the home fires burning? "In essence," said biologist Steve Weiner, lead author of the study, "we spoil the story." Look on the bright side -- scientists now have a whole new missing link to ponder. The Zhoudoudian tourist industry is unlikely to see it that way, however.