We explain what is the evolution of man and when this process began. In addition, the different stages of human evolution.
What is the evolution of man?
Human evolution or hominization is the name given to the gradual and historical process of biological change of the most primitive ancestors ( Australopitecus sp . ) Of the human being until the appearance of our species as we know it today ( Homo sapiens ).
This process began 5 to 7 million years ago in the African continent, with the emergence of the common ancestor between the human being (the species of the hominine lineage) and the chimpanzees ( P an troglodytes ).
Strictly speaking, when talking about human beings we refer exclusively to Homo sapiens , although we are not the only members of the genus Homo.
Before us (and some during our prehistory) there were numerous species that are now extinct but that had numerous physical, biological and behavioral similarities.
Human evolution had its initial point when a population of primates from northwest Africa was divided into two lineages that evolved independently: one of them remained in the trees, while the other migrated to the plain.
Due to environmental pressures, the following generations of this last lineage learned to stand on their forelegs, thus releasing the later ones that would later become hands, capable of holding tools.
The study of this process was thanks to archeology, paleontology, geology and other similar sciences, but especially thanks to the emergence of the studies of Charles Darwin and the Theory of the origin of species , which came to supplant creationism or spontaneous generation as the greatest human explanation regarding its origins.
Stages of human evolution
Human evolution includes the emergence of the following main species (there were other minor ones that were not a vital part of the evolutionary tree):
- Australopithecus . First primates to walk upright, they were a varied and successful group of species, which faced an intense climate change in the savanna of their time, being forced to abandon the vegetarian diet and start hunting, thus giving rise to the genus Homo. Of this species, quite complete skeletons are preserved, such as the famous Lucy ( Australopithecus afarensis ).
- Homo habilis . The homo genus is characterized by its ability to develop stone tools, and the first one existed in Africa 2.2 million years ago. Its cranial capacity did not exceed 800 cm3 and it would have shared time with Homo rudolfensis , with which it is often considered the same species.
- Homo ergaster . This human species was the first to leave Africa 1.8 million years ago and colonize other territories, thanks to which it served as a link between two other species to come: Homo erectus (in China and the Far East) and Homo cepranensis or Homo antecessor (in Europe).
- Homo erectus . He lived in Asia 1.8 million years ago, until its extinction 300,000 years ago. He covered himself with animal skins and manufactured various stone tools, in addition to cooking his food, as they would have tamed the fire. This would print profound changes in your muscles and digestive system, as well as more complex forms of socialization that would have required articulated language.
- Homo antecessor . Of greater height and still small brain compared to Homo sapiens , they were the first European human link, which served as a step between Homo ergaster and Homo heidelbergensis , and perhaps the only common ancestor between modern humans and Homo neardenthal ens is .
- Homo heidelbergensis . Born 600,000 years ago, they had large skulls of 1200 cm3 and protruding jaws, greater nasal opening and possibly a first symbolic language. His first fossils were found near the German city of Heidelberg, and hence his name.
- Homo Rhodesiensis . Born 600,000 years ago in Africa, it had a higher cranial capacity, between 1280 and 1325 cm3, and common features with H. erectus , H. ergaster and H. antecessor . However, its features andfocusthe future H . know that the species that were contemporary, so it would be our direct predecessor.
- Homo neardenthaliensis . The famous “Neardental man” inhabited Europe, the Near East and Central Asia about 230,000 and 28,000 years ago, and its extinction is due to unknown causes. However, having shared time with H. sapiens , it is thought that natural selection and competition would have favored the latter. Even so, many humans today have genetic indexes of H. Neardenthaliensis , so the crossing between species should not have been unusual.
- Homo sapiens . The human being as we know it arose in two batches: the premodern, whose skulls were not yet completely spherical, with vertical front and high vault, appeared in Africa (Ethiopia, Israel, Morocco and South Africa, mainly) 315,000 to 100,000 years ago. And then there are modern humans, endowed with modern behavior and physiognomy, and whose first remains date back 195,000 to 140,000 years ago. This species would have been of dark complexion and would have slowly conquered the entire world, actively or accidentally extinguishing the rest of the species of the genus Homo and becoming the humanity we know today.