Africa: Human Evolution
The earliest known evidence anywhere in the world of the
existence of man and the appearance of human civilization comes
from Africa: the cradle of civilization and the origin of human
society. In order to understand Africa's place in human evolution,
one must first examine the geography of Africa. Geography is a
great factor in history and nowhere is this more powerfully
illustrated than in Africa.
A landscape of tropical rainforest and winding rivers that
existed 40 million years ago, in what is today the Sahara region of
western Egypt, was the cradle of the primates from whom humanity
has evolved. Despite the fact that this area of Africa is perceived
to be the true cradle of humanity, not many fossils can be found.
This again goes back to geography.
Unlike the rest of the continent, East Africa transformed
through faulting and volcanic activity between 23 and 5 million
years ago. This was also true for South Africa. Because of this,
these areas are characterized by rift valleys and
These variations of height provided a range of environments in
which living creatures, particularly early man, could flourish and
survive such climatic changes as the ice age. The volcanic activity
and the creation of soft new rock helped the discovery and dating
of prehistoric remains. It is for these reasons, eastern and
southern Africa provide a continuous and accurate record of human