The evolution from ape to man can be devided is several species of ape-men. Here you can read about those different species of our possible ancestors.
This is the most primitive hominid found up to now. It is also the oldest hominid species known, dated as being 4,4 million years old. It lived in what we now call Ethiopia. Ramidus was about 122 cm tall. This species has more chimpanzee-like features than any other human ancestor. Its feet were like those of the chimpanzee, but also showed similarities to the Afarensis. The fossils found with ramidus indicate that it may have been a forest dweller and that the ramidus walked upright.
Anamensis existed in the period of 4,2 up to 3,9 million years ago. It had a mixture of primitive features in the skull, and advanced traits in the body. The teeth and jaws are very similar to those of older fossil apes. The more advanced arms and legs indicate that anamensis walked on two feet.
The Australopithecus afarensis
Africanus existed in the period of 3 up to 2 million years ago and already showed more resemblance to human. It had smaller canine teeth and larger molars than the afarensis. The position of the teeth suggests that africanus ate fruit and foliage. Brain size may also have been slightly larger, ranging from 420 cc to 500 cc, but still non-advanced in the areas necessary for speech. Africanus lived in the grass-steppe in East and South Africa.
Australopitecus afarensis and africanus are known as gracile australopithecines, because of their relatively lighter build, particularly in the skull and teeth. (Gracile means "slender")
Aethiopicus existed in the period of 2,6 up to 2,3 million years ago. Some bones have been found, most famous of which is the Black Skull discovered by Alan Walker. Aethiopicus may be an ancestor of robustus and boisei. Aethiopicus has a baffling mixture of primitive and advanced traits. The brain size is very small, 410 cc. There is not much information about this species, because not many bones have been found yet.
Robustus existed in the period of 2 up to 1,5 million years ago. It had a body, which was similar to that of africanus, but it had a bigger head, which was more human-like than all his ancestors. The massive face was flat with a large brow ridge and without a forehead. Its jaw was not forwards anymore, like that of the apes. It had relatively small front teeth, but massive grinding teeth in a large lower jaw. The average brain size was about 530 cc. Bones excavated with robustus skeletons indicate that they were used as digging tools.
The Olduvai- rift in the north of Tanzania
Boisei existed in the period of 2,1 up to 1,1 million years ago and was similar to Robustus. Its skull was more massive, its face was even flatter and began to look more like that of the modern human. It had a brain size of about 530 cc. The first skulls of this species were found in the Olduvai-rift by Leaky.
Australopithecus aethiopicus, robustus and boisei are known as robust australopithecines, since their skulls in particular were more heavily built.
habilis has not got another name than the Australopithecines without reason; he is known as the "handy man", because of evidence of tools found with its remains and his more humanlike appearance. Leaky, a famous archaeologist, found many primitive stone tools such as hand axes and swingstones in the Oldoway-cliff. Homo habilis existed in the period of 2,4 up to 1,5 million years ago. He was very similar, in different ways, to the Austrolopithecines. For example, his face was still primitive, but the back teeth smaller. The brains were bigger than those of the Australopithecines, for habilis had a brain size varying from 500 cc up to 800 cc. Moreover, the brain shape was more humanlike. The bulge of Broca's area, essential for speech, is visible in one habilis' brain cast, indicating it might have been capable of rudimentary speech. Habilis is thought to have been 127 cm high, and 45 kg in weight, although females may have been smaller.
erectus existed in the period of 1,8 million up to 300.000 years ago. Like habilis, the face had protruding jaws with large molars, no chin, thick brow ridges, and a long low skull, with a brain size varying from 750 to 1225 cc. Fossils have been found throughout Africa, Asia and Europe.
In Europe were fossils found in Germany, in Asia they were located in China and Indonesia. The excavations of Europe and Africa show a long, slender man, while the Asian excavations a smaller and sturdier one. The excavations of Java (Indonesia) show a more primitive erectus (the Java man) than the Chinese excavations of Peking. The erectus of Peking (the Peking man) had a bigger brain capacity (1055 cc), and he may have used a primitive language. The European and African erectus may have walked more efficiently than we do. The previous hominids were only found in Afircia, the erectus in Asia and Europe as well. The erectus may have used fire, most likely by the Peking- man, since fireplaces were found there. The erectus improved the tools constantly.
Archaic forms of the sapiens first appeared about 500.000 years ago. The brain size was about 1200 cc, the teeth were smaller and less robust than the erectus. Many still had large brow ridges and receding foreheads and chins. The skull became more rounded. Fossils of the Homo sapiens (archaic) were found in Africa and Europe.
We will take a closer look at this species. Even though the Neanderthal is one of the first species found, the cause of its extinction still is mystery today. The Neanderthal is named after its first discovery location in the Neanderthal ,old German for Neander valley, near Düsseldorf in 1856. On 4 February 1857, the find was described by Schauffhausen for a society in Bonn, since then the 'Neanderthal' was accepted by scientists all over the world.
Because of a lot of fossilised bones and teeth, we can give you a good picture of the size and build of the Neanderthals. He existed in the period of 230.000 up to 30.000 years ago. His average length was 1.60 meter and he weighted about 70 kilos. So he was smaller than the present Europeans, but heavier built. He had strong and thickly-set bones, big and solid joints, solid muscles and a long body with relatively short legs. The Neanderthal man walked upright. He had a brain size varying from 1300 to 1700 cc, which is as big as that of the modern man's, but 10% bigger if we take the difference between the body- measurement into account. The Neanderthal man had a retreated forehead, pronounced eyebrowridges and a face, which was rather pushed forwards, without a real chin. The skull was low and, measured from front to back, fairly long. Probably he had a huge, somewhat swollen nose. All these distinctive marks are typical for an adaptation to a cold climate. The small, heavy build contained warmth well. The huge nose and big nasal cavity could warm up the cold air before it reached the lungs. The Neanderthals lived in the period of the last ice age.
The Neanderthal man from the in- and outside.
The Neanderthals had different tools: knifes, spearheads, chisels, small drills and scrapers. To make these tools, the Neanderthal man had to have a high level of intelligence and handicraft. The Neanderthals lived in little groups, collected food and hunted prey like deer, bulls, hole bears, mammoths and woolly-haired rhinoceros. Fire was very important for the survival of the Neanderthals. It was useful to defrost and cook food and it was a protection against predators and low temperatures. Probably they used hide to make clothes and tents. They also cared for their old- and sick fellowmen. Most remainders were found in caves. This could mean that they lived in caves, but also that they buried their dead there. They were the first species with some sort of ritual conduct.
|The extinction of the Neanderthal man.
"It could be possible that the Neanderthal man is not extinct at all. Maybe the Neanderthal man really was afflicted through illness, but that some had survived that illness. When you around you in the middle of the street, you really see men, who have the character of a Neanderthal man."
No excavations of Neanderthal remains of later than 30.000 years ago occurred. The Cro-Magnon man, the sapiens sapiens, appeared in Europe. It is not clear why the Neanderthals suddenly disappeared. Some scientists think that they are the ancestors of the Homo sapiens sapiens, because remains with marks of Neanderthals and marks of the Homo sapiens sapiens were found. Other scientists think that they became extinct, because of the cold. Again others think that they became extinct, because of illness. Those illnesses originated from the Cro-Magnon men. They brought it to the Neanderthals, who were not immune. This can be compared to the situation in the 16th and 17th century, when Europe became ill through contamination originating from its colonies. You can conclude that there still is not any hard proof to explain the extinction of Neanderthals. There are all just guesses.
One of the first sapiens sapiens is the Cro-Magnon man. This species was first found in 1856 in a cave in the Dordogne in France. The bones and the skull looked almost the same as that of the modern man, but 30.000 years older. The men were, on average, 1.80 meter tall, women 1.65 meter. They were strongly built and had a chin and no eyebrowridge anymore. The Cro-Magnon man would not be recognised in the street these days. The tools of the Cro-Magnon men became more beautiful and more useful. Result of these advances was that they could hunt much better. They hunted a lot. This could mean that they had to fill many mouths.
We belong to the sapiens sapiens, which first appeared 120.000 years ago. He had a larger forehead, the brain size was smaller than the Neandertals, about 1350 cc. About 40.000 years ago, at appearance of the Cro-Magnon culture, tool kits started to become more sophisticated significantly, using a wider variety of raw materials such as bone and antler, and containing new implements for fabrication of clothes, engraving and sculpting. Fine work, in the shape of decorated tools, beads, ivory carvings of humans and animals, clay figures, musical instruments, and spectacular cave paintings appeared over the next 20.000 years. 100.000 Years ago, humans were more robust than now, that is why they are sometimes called 'primitives'.