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Because fire naturally occurs through lightning strikes, it can be difficult to distinguish between man-made and natural fire in the archaeological record.

Most agree that our speech organs evolved for feeding and breathing, not speech, but that our tongue, lips, larynx, hyoid bone and respiratory apparatus were fortuitously well-designed to produce speech.

Theories about the origins of speech and language abound.

The chronological lists contain every invention that was on at least two of the “Best Inventions” lists I found.

This version of the list also contains much more information about the invention, including precursors, improvements and further developments.

A majority of anthropologists believe that cooking began about 250,000 BCE, when evidence of hearths began appearing in human settlements in Africa, Europe and the Middle East.Pottery is defined by some as any fired ceramic wares that contain clay when formed, while some archaeologists restrict pottery to ceramic vessels.Discontinuity theory holds that human language is so unusual that it can only be explained if it evolved quickly due to a genetic basis.Linguist Noam Chomsky, a prominent discontinuity theorist, believes that there are basic, universal speech components that underlie all language and explain both the uniqueness of human language and certain common features of all languages.The oldest known agricultural settlement is in Cyprus, dating from 9100-8600 BCE.Rice and millet were domesticated in China by 8000 BCE.Continuity theorists believe in a long, slow evolution of human language from the pre-language systems of our primate ancestors.