Human Evolution

Much Debate has surrounded the evolution of humans. However, most scientists are now agreed that modern humans, Homo sapiens, are the sole survivor of a number of human species that evolved from the common ancestor of humans and apes some six million years ago. Climatic changes forced our earliest ancestors out of the tropical forests and into open woodlands and grasslands. The challenge of these new habitats resulted in important changes, such as the ability to walk upright and an increase in brain size.

Evolutionary tree : The evolutionary sequence from the earliest human ancestors is not a straight line, but is instead a “tree” with many dead ends. Because the fossil evidence is limited, scientists disagree about how many human species have existed and which were ancestors of others. This evolutionary tree provides a simple guide to relationships but does not necessarily indicate ancestry.

Human Evolution Tree
ParanthropusParanthropines :The Paranthropines were strongly built “man-apes” that lived in southern and eastern Africa between three and one million years ago. They were probably descended from the Australopithecines, but were not part of the evolutionary pathway that led to modern humans.
AustralopithecusAustralopithecines : The Australopithecines are thought to be the earliest hominids (human-like people). Although ape-like, with a small brain and projecting jaws, Australopithecus stood upright and walked on two feet. This is known from its leg bones and backbone, and from 3.7 million-year-old footprints found at Laetoli in Tanzania.
Homo HabilisHomo habilis : “Handy man” is the earliest known species of Homo. I lived in the woodlands and savannahs of Africa. Homo habilis had a brain size of 650 to 800 ml. It made and used simple stone tools, and was a successful forager and scavenger.
Homo ErectusHomo erectus : Homo erectus was the first human to leave Africa and move to Europe and Asia. It had a sloping forehead, flattish face, and a brain size between 850 and 1100 ml. These humans exploited more habitats than their ancestors, and were the first to use fire.
NeanderthalsNeanderthals : Neanderthals were the first humans to have adapted to life in the cold climates of Europe and Asia. They had strong physique and large brains. They wore clothes, made a range of tools, and used fire to keep warm. They were the first humans to bury their dead.
Homo sapiensHomo sapiens : Modern humans first evolved in Africa. Homo sapiens has a large brain, considerable intelligence, and the ability to use language. Humans increasingly took control of their surroundings as they developed agriculture, societies, and technology.
Homo genusHomo :Homo is the genus, or group of species, to which modern humans belong It probably evolved from the Australopithecines between three and two million years ago, although there is no direct evidence for this. Early members of the genus showed increasing brain size and the ability to make tools.

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