From the Beginning of Time

First humanlike creatures appeared on the earth's surface 5.6 million years ago. ‘Modern humans’ originated 1,60,000 years ago. They obtained food by scavenging, hunting animals and gathering plant produce. Sources for studying early human history are stone tools, cave paintings and human fossils. Before the beginning of scientific understanding of humans, people believed the God created them. This theory of creation was disproved by Charles Darwin in his book ‘On the Origin of Species’. He argued that humans emerged through evolution and natural selections. Skulls of ape, Australopithecus, Homo erectus and Homo sapiens, reveal the changes due to human evolution. Primates are a subgroup of a larger group of mammals. About 24 million years ago, other subgroups amongst primates called hominoids emerged. Hominids evolved from hominoids which were quadrupeds. Its family is known as Hominidae. Hominids are further subdivided into two branches (genus) - Australopithecus and Homo. Fossils of Australopithecus were discovered in Olduvai Gorge by archaeologists Mary and Louis Leakey. Species of early humans have different characteristics in terms of their skull size and distinctive jaws, due to the positive feedback mechanism. Bipedalism enabled hands to be freed for carrying objects. Around 2.5 million years, phase of glaciation started. Australopithecus became extinct and Homo adapted to the climate change. Fossils of Homo are classified as Homo habilis (the tool maker), Homo erectus (the upright man), and Homo sapiens (the wise or thinking man). The earliest evidence for stone tools comes from Ethiopia and Kenya, and the earliest stone tool makers were the Australopithecus. Language developed as early as 2 million years ago. Hominid language involved gestures or hand movements. Brain of Homo habilis had certain features that made it possible for them to speak.

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