Homo habilis skull found at Olduvai Gorge.  This image is public domain.

 

 

 

             

Hominines

7 to .5 Million Years Ago

Austrolopithecus africanus, reconstruction sculpture by Toni Wirts.  As a work of the US Federal Government it is in the public domain.

Homo Habilis

 

 

Intimations of Humanity

Three pivotal things happened during this time.  Each occurred during a period of global climatic upheaval and they all happened in Africa.  First hominines descended from the trees to walk on two feet.  Then tool making emerged, made possible by a larger brain and two hands.  Finally, people belonging to the Homo genus evolved.  They had bodies with human proportions and complex bilateral brains two-thirds the size of modern humans.  Sexual competition was reduced by greater equality between males and females and a more influential role for fathers during the long years of human childhood. 

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Walking on Two Feet

7 Million Years Ago

The first primates who walked on two feet, lived in Africa.  Why this two-foot fashion caught on is a source of some scientific debate as the evolutionary advantage 7 million years ago is not so clear.  As many as 20 or 30 bi-pedal species may have appeared and disappeared throughout Africa between 7 and 3 million years ago.  Among them are our ancestors.

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Stone Tools

2.5 Million Years Ago

Archaeologists have found what we would probably call a tool factory in Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania, Africa.  

Between 2.9 and 2.5 million years old it is the oldest evidence of the systematic manufacture of stone tools.  Scientists believe the tools were first made by Homo habilis, an intelligent primate but not really of the Homo genus. 

Stone tools assembled by the US National Park Service.  A public domain graphic.

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Earth Shudders

2 Million Years Ago

Supernova explosions in our solar system's neighbourhood five and two million years ago may have shaken Earth to its core.  They may have created the Local Bubble, an almost empty space that surrounds us and makes it possible for us to see the stars.  Nobody knows for sure if the explosion caused the north and south magnetic reversals that occurred at this time... or if these events explain a series of sudden extinctions that left room for human evolution to continue.

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The First Humans

1.8 Million Years Ago

Homo ergaster (workman) and Homo erectus his later relative, clearly belong to the Homo genus.  Their brains were two thirds the size of ours.   Their tools and weapons were more sophisticated than earlier implements.  They constructed rudimentary dwellings and their social relations were more cooperative.  They were the first hominins to leave Africa moving through Eurasia and China, and by 800,000 years ago hominins had arrived in Europe. 

Some scientists believe that Homo erectus  is the founding father of all later humans while other scientists believe that the lines of erectus and ergaster diverged.

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Homo Sapiens

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