Human beings, aka Homo sapiens, branched off from the evolutionary tree of our primate cousins some 200,000 years ago. However, fossil evidence suggests that our various hominin predecessors were extant even millions of years ago. And a multiplicity of fields are necessary to decipher our origins. Specialized techniques are used to excavate fossils, while technologies such as geomechanical dating, and databases in genetics, ecology, and paleoecology, and etiology are employed to piece together our story.
The start of human evolution is characterized by several changes, namely bipedalism, increased brain size, prolonged gestation, and decreased sexual dimorphism, or physical discrepancies between male and female. Although there is significant obscurity surrounding our exact ancestry, much progress has been made since Charles Darwin asserted his thesis on evolution in his seminal work, The Origin of Species, in 1859.
Glance through the pages of our lineage and learn our fascinating story – from the troop of ape-like animals roaming the African plains to the iPhone carrying, hashtag following humans we are today.
The Beginning of ManUsing the molecular clock, which approximates various events based on the rate at which a species accumulates genetic mutations, scientists estimate that our ancestors diverged from an apelike species during the Late Miocene Epoch. This was about 11.2 to 5.3 million years ago.
From Primate to Human
via: GettyAmong the species of primates that scientists propose were the first to kick this off were Kenyapithecus (hailing from Kenya) and Griphopithecus (originating from central Europe and Turkey).