Human Origins 101 | National Geographic


– [Narrator] Millions of
years before industry, agriculture and civilization the world stage was set for one creature’s unprecedented rise. The story of humanity’s evolution began about seven million years ago when the human lineage broke
away from that of chimpanzees. Over time an ensemble cast of
over 20 early humans species or hominins came to the fore. Most became extinct while others might have been
ancestors to today’s humans. Each species exhibited varying degrees of human like physical
and behavioral traits such as large brains, small
teeth, bipedality and tool use. These hominins fell
into three major groups. Early hominins,
australopithecines, and homo genus. Humanity’s earliest relatives lived between seven and 4.4
million years ago in Africa. Having most recently
shared a common ancestor with chimpanzees they
had many ape-like traits such as a small cranial capacity. However fossils show that
some ancient hominins were also beginning to show
human-like characteristics such as small canines that were
likely used more for eating and not for hunting or fighting. The next phase of hominin evolution involved primates called
australopithecines. They lived between 4.4
and 1.4 million years ago across the African continent. Like their ancient brethren australopithecines had
some ape-like traits. However changes in the
skull, spine and legs indicate a notable shift
toward a very human-like trait. Consistent bipedal locomotion. The third and current
phase of human evolution involves members of the genus homo. The earliest homo species likely date to more than two million years ago making them a contemporary
of some australopithecines. But unlike earlier hominins who exhibited a mosaic of
ape and human-like traits. Homo species were becoming
distinctly more human. Their cranial capacity was growing larger than any other hominins. They developed sophisticated
stone tool technology. And they became the first to control fire. These physical and behavioral adaptations along with advancements in technology allowed some homo species to be the first to migrate out of Africa and
explore the rest of the world. While a cast of over 20 hominin species have walked this Earth only one remains. Homo sapiens shaped by
millions of years of evolution embarked on a journey of
exploration and industry its ancestors could have only dreamed.

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