Humans have been around on earth for many years. But where did we come from? Scientists have proven that we have evolved from primates. Primates are a group of animals that include monkeys, chimpanzees, orangutans and gorillas. The scientific name for humans is ‘homo sapiens.’ Many scientists have found evidence that humans were first found living in East Africa. We then moved out of Africa and spread across the world.
HUMAN EVOLUTION TIMELINE
55million years ago: First primates appear
8-6 million years ago: Gorillas, chimpanzees and early humans start to evolve
4 million years ago: The first primate to walk on 2 legs (like modern humans!) was found in the African savannas.
2.5 million years ago: A type of human called Homo Habilis was found in Ethiopia. These humans had larger brains than the other primates. They started using tools and eating meat. This extra food meant humans could develop bigger brains.
1.5 million years ago: First human to be found out of Africa. This human was the homo erectus. It was found in Asia.
195 000 years ago: Homo Sapiens were found in Ethopia. These humans are very similar to what we are like today.
THE ‘OUT OF AFRICA’ THEORY
Primates all used to live in forests in Africa together, including the early humans. But these forests started to get smaller in Africa and the early humans were forced onto grasslands. By moving onto wide spaces of grass, humans started to walk on two legs instead of 4.
African grasslands were perfect for early humans. Grasslands provided water, fruits and lots of animals to hunt. Humans were not as fast or as strong as the animals they hunted. However, we had developed big brains and were clever enough to set traps and use hunting tools. We were also very good at long distance running. We would chase fast animals like cheetahs until they simply died of exhaustion.
There was a big ice age many millions of years ago in Africa. When the ice age finished and temperatures got hotter, the grasslands dried up. This forced lots of tribes of humans to come together along with herds of cattle. This allowed humans to start farming those cattle.
HUMANS FROM EUROPE, ASIA AND AMERICAS ALL COME FROM AFRICA
Scientists have done lots of experiments on people’s genes. These genes show that everyone living outside of Africa, all come from a group of African people. 50 000 years ago this group left Africa and reproduced in Europe, Asia and across the world. So everyone is descended from the early humans in Africa!
Out of all the time humans have been alive, we have spent the most time in Africa. It is only recently that humans have started to live outside of Africa. Africa is therefore a special place of scientific, cultural and historical interest. It is the birthplace of humankind.