The Last Of The Humans

Jun 27, 2011 Comments Off by

Not long ago, human beings as we know them today were just one of a variety of different human species living on planet earth. All of these species had evolved in a similar way to us. Evolution had noticed a gap in the market that was larger brains, capable of designing and utilising tools, and analysing their environment.

However even the less observant reader will have noticed, that in the modern world, there is only one species of human. What happened to the others? Most of our potential closest relatives, became extinct.

Around six million years ago, in Africa, is thought to be when the first ape-like creatures stood on two legs.

Two million years ago is when species recognisable as humans are thought to have come into being. These humans are called Homo Ergaster. Ideally suited to dry weather, Homo Ergaster is thought to have evolved in a period of intense drought, when sweating was of significant advantage.

These primitive humans eventually left Africa, and a new species evolved, Homo Erectus. They were very similar to us in build, but had the strength, stamina, and speed of Homo Ergaster.

Modern humans, Homo Sapiens, also moved out of Africa around this time. Homo Sapiens are noted for having enlarged brains in areas involved with social interaction, the ability to plan and imagine, and the ability to understand what others might be thinking.

It is thought that our ingenuity meant that we could outsmart Erectus in competing for food. This combined with the eruption of Mount Toba in South-East Asia, which is the largest volcanic eruption in human history, meant that Erectus numbers dwindled to the point of extinction.

Even after this, there were still other human species living on earth, most notably, Homo Neanderthalenis, who also had very large brains, and Homo Floresiensis, a distant ancestor of Erectus and often nicknamed “hobbits”. Indeed the lower estimate for when some of these species lived is as little as 12,000 years ago.

As the only species of human remaining, there appears to be a large gap in between us and our nearest living relatives, chimpanzees.

You can see a dramatisation series of this evolutionary chain on BBC One on Thursdays.

Biology, Neurology, and Medicine, Sciences

About the author

I am the founder of Atheism Network.
Comments are closed.