1 minute read

Prehistoric people

Prehistoric people, general term for a variety of species of human ancestors. Humans and apes, who share common ancestors, began to diverge in their evolutionary development about 14 million years ago. The first certain ancestor of modern humans is Australopithecus afarensis, discovered in 1978, a species that flourished in Ethiopia and Tanzania 3.8–2.5 million years ago. Adult individuals walked upright and had a brain size of about 400 cc. They inhabited grasslands and ate a wide variety of food, including some meat. There were other species within the genus Australopithecus, but they are believed to have left no descendants. Homo habilus, the earliest true human being, dates back about 2 million years. They used primitive tools, hunted in groups, and had a brain capacity of 500 to 750 cc. Homo erectus, whose earliest remains date back about 1.5 million years, had a brain size of 800 cc, which increased to 1,300 cc over the next million years. Homo erectus lived originally in Africa and used fire and the ax. This species evolved into an early form of Homo sapiens some 400,000 years ago. These ancestors of ours cooked meat, wore clothes, made wooden tools, and built huts. It is unknown whether the Neanderthal, who flourished about 75,000 to 35,000 years ago, was within the human line of descent or represented a competitor exterminated by the expansion of modern humans. There is much evidence that Homo sapiens sapiens, modern humans, first appeared about 40,000 years ago. Cro-Magnon, an example of this modern species, used a variety of tools, domesticated animals and plants, and created cave paintings.

Additional topics

21st Century Webster's Family Encyclopedia21st Century Webster's Family Encyclopedia - Pope to Proverbs, Book of