In what was perhaps the most meaningful discovery ever made, early man exited the safety and shelter of his prehistoric cave, struck two stones together, and for the first time in history created fire.

Moments later, man created fire for the second time and, after all the screaming and excited yelling had died down, the third, fourth, and fifth time.

"Fire, and its ability to light any object not currently on fire instantly on fire, completely changed human existence," noted archaeologist and historian Phillip Krensen said. "Not only could man now defend himself from dangerous predators, but he could also cook their meat, then get up from the bonfire, smile briefly to himself, and spend the rest of the evening seeing what else there was around to burn down."

"Our findings indicate that this ranged widely from brittle husks of corn, to small branches and twigs, to other unsuspecting Homo erectus within arm's reach," Krensen added. "Indeed, it was a time of great fire-related exploration."

According to remarkably detailed cave paintings from the period, early humans attempted to set fire to surrounding bushes, roaming buffalo, uncooperative mates, the sky, primitive tools, the ground, cooperative mates, and, judging by their often blackened appearance, most of the cave paintings themselves.

In addition to influencing prehistoric eating habits, art, and interpersonal relationships, the introduction of fire also gave rise to several new leisure activities, such as fire-watching and fire-gazing, and helped to develop early modes of communication. Some scholars have gone so far as to claim that without the discovery of fire, modern man wouldn't have the amazing range of frightened and pained expressions and exclamations that he does today.

"Fire definitely had a very powerful effect on individuals at the time," said Howard Schwartzman, an expert in early human civilizations who spoke to reporters from his home in upstate New York. "It was like nothing else they had ever seen before, and for the next century or so, it became just about the only thing anyone could pay any attention to."

"But then, who can blame them," added Schwartzman, suddenly throwing his glass of whiskey into the fireplace next to him. "Man, just look at that thing go."

New research shows that early humans may have lost the secret to fire for nearly 3,000 years after they attempted to set a nearby lake ablaze.