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Human Evolution

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Human Evolution Homo erectus was the first of our ancestors to walk completely upright, and he looked very like modern man, though with a heavy jaw and bony eyebrow ridges.

Homo habilis was an early form of man that began to use simple tools like flints.
Australopithecus was an early ancestor that walked upright but still had many ape-like features.

Ramapithecus was a small ape that may have been a distant ancestor of man.
The Neanderthals lived alongside modern man. They were heavily built but probably just as advanced as modern man, but they soon died out.
Modern man probably appeared first in Africa, and spread rapidly throughout Europe and Asia.

Who were the Neanderthals?

The Neanderthals are a puzzle, because they appear to have lived alongside modern humans for a very long ti me. Their remains are found throughout Europe and the Middle East, dating from between 100,000 and 35,000 years ago. The Neanderthals were more primitive than humans because they still had a massive jaw and bony brows, but they used tools and buried their dead. Some people think that they were wiped out by modem humans. It has even been suggested that some may still survive, giving rise to accounts of the Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas.

When did the first modern human appear?

Modern humans appeared between 300,000 and 150,000 years ago, probably in Africa.The first ones were known as the Cro-Magnons, and they rapidly migrated throughout Asia and Europe.They did not reach North America until 12,000 years ago. Some of these ancient humans were the artists who made cave paintings showing extinct animals such as the mammoth and the cave bear.They were also almost certainly responsible for the extinction of many of these ancient animals, which quickly followed their migration into new hunting areas.

When did our ancestors begin to walk upright?

Some of the earliest remains of our ancestors are more than three million years old.They show very clearly that these creatures walked upright. The development of an upright posture, walking on two legs, is thought to have followed climatic changes. As the forest areas retreated our ancestors were forced to live on open grasslands. An upright posture would then be an advantage, because it allows an animal to travel more quickly. It also frees the hands for carrying food, babies and eventually, weapons and tools.

How closely related are we to modern apes?

Research shows that 99 percent of our genetic material is identical to that of the chimpanzee, which means that we not only resemble one another, but often share the same diseases. Some of the tropical diseases emerging from Africa are thought to have crossed over from chimpanzees to humans very recently. In addition to the physical resemblance, chimpanzees share with us the abilities to develop social systems and to communicate complex messages.

Some of them have also developed the ability to make and use simple tools. We do know from fossilized teeth that there was once a huge ape called Gigantopithecus that was around three times the size of modern gorillas.

Tags: humans, evolution, neanderthals

Category: Education  - ( Education Archive)

Date Added: 21 December '11

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