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Manganese dioxide is an oxidizing agent that can cause eye and respiratory tract irritation. It can also irritate the central nervous system.

It is a common chemical used in the production of dry batteries and nitrogen fertilizer. It is also used in metallurgy, glass, ceramics, enamel and other industries. It is a rust remover, an oxidant and catalyst. It is also used in the pharmaceutical industry as a disinfectant, oxidant, emetic agent and gastric lavage agents.

The inorganic compound with the formula MnO2 occurs naturally as the mineral pyrolusite and as a component of manganese nodules. It is primarily used for dry-cell batteries, such as the alkaline battery and zinc-carbon battery.

MnO2 is also used for the synthesis of MnO4-, which has a variety of applications in organic synthesis and as an oxidant. It is commonly used as an ISCO oxidant to degrade a wide range of organic contaminants in soil and groundwater.

Combustion features were found in the residues of two commercial manganese dioxides and in twenty two’manganese ore’ blocs from Pech-de-l’Aze I, France (Supplementary Information 2). The manganese oxides’ b-MnO2 crystal structure was transformed into hausmannite, Mn3O4, during combustion.

These results are in contrast to the’manganese’ ore-containing residues from Pech-de-l’Aze II and Combe Grenal, which show no evidence of combustion reactions.

The use of’manganese’ ore in the European Middle Palaeolithic record is uncertain. However, it appears that ‘black manganese’ ore-containing residues were first present in the glacial conditions of Marine Isotope Stage 4. If these black materials are manganese dioxide, they may lend support to an origin in the use of’manganese’ for fire making in the subsistence challenges of MIS 4 during a prolonged period of extreme cold.