Human Evolution

Primates first evolved on a single landmass that included both Africa and South America. After separating about 140 million years ago, primates on both continents continued to evolve separately. Those in Africa gave rise to the Old World Monkeys and Great Apes, while those in South America became the New World Monkeys.

All primates have Shared Behaviour because we are all descended from a common ancestor. We share even more in common with chimpanzees and bonobos because they are our closest relatives. Chimpanzees and Humans separated about 7 million years ago.

The discovery of Lucy in the fossil record was significant because Australopithecines were the first hominid (4 million years ago) that was bipedal (walked on two legs).

Homo Habilis (Handy man) was the first hominid to leave evidence of stone tool use in the archaeological record (2 million years ago). The very first stone tools used were produced by a technique called Flaking, whereby one stone is used to shear off a flake of another stone to produce a sharp edge.

Culture reflects the accumulation of knowledge. Although other species are capable of social learning (learning from their peers), only humans seem to transmit, tinker, and improve technology across generations. This began approximately 1.5 million years ago.

Modern humans are less physically robust than ancestral hominids but have much larger brains. The dramatic increase in the brain’s capacity computational power combined with collective learning is responsible for the massive acceleration of culture and technology we have today.