All about human evolution

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The extensive process of change by which humans originated from ape-like ancestors is called human evolution. There is scientific evidence which proves that physical and behavioral traits shared by all humans originated from apelike ancestors. These traits evolved over a period of about six million years!

The ability to walk on two legs is called bipedalism. It is one of the earliest defining human traits which evolved over 4 million years ago. A large and complex brain, the ability to make tools, and capacity for language are other important human characteristics which developed more recently. Advanced traits include complex symbolic expression, art, and cultural diversity. These traits emerged predominantly during the past 100,000 years.  

We all know that humans are primates. Physical and genetic similarities suggest Homo sapiens (modern humans) share a very close relationship with the apes. Humans and the great apes of Africa (chimpanzees and gorillas) share a common ancestor which lived somewhere between eight and six million years ago. Humans first emerged in the continent of Africa, much of human evolution occured on that continent as well. It has fossils of early humans who lived between 6 and 2 million years ago. 

According to the scientists, there are 15 to 20 separate species of early humans. But there is no clarity regarding how they are related or which ones died out. There are no living descendants for the majority of early human species. There are debates over how to identify and classify different species of early humans, and discussions on factors which influenced the evolution and extinction of each species as well. 

Between 2 million and 1.8 million years ago, early humans migrated out of Africa for the first time, into Asia. Moving ahead, they entered Europe between 1.5 million and 1 million years ago. Modern human species spread across the world much later. For example, people would have first gone to Australia within the past 60,000 years and entered America for the first time within the past 30,000 years or so. The past 12,000 years witnessed the beginning of agriculture and rise of first civilizations. 



Paleoanthropology is a subfield of anthropology. It is the scientific study of human evolution. It is the analysis of similarities and differences between humans and other species in their genes, physiology, and behavior. And those who explore the roots of human physical traits and behavior are called Paleoanthropologists. They try to find out how evolution has shaped the potentials, tendencies and limitations of mankind. Paleoanthropology is an interesting scientific field which probes the origin of the universe and defining traits of our species. But some people find it difficult to digest the concept of evolution as it need not necessarily fit with religious and traditional beliefs.

Important clues about our ancient past can be derived from early human fossils and archaeological remains. These remains include bones, tools and footprints left behind by ancient people.Such remains were mostly buried and preserved naturally. They can be either found on the surface if exposed by rain and rivers or by digging the ground. 

Scientists analyze the physical appearance of earlier humans and observe how it changed over the years by studying fossilized bones. We can get an idea of how our predecessors moved around by examining their bone size, shape, and markings left by muscles. It can even give us an idea of how they held their tools and how their brain size changed over the years. Things earlier people made and places where scientists find them is called archaeological evidence. It helps archaeologists to determine how early humans made use of their tools and lived in their environments. 

The process of evolution

The process of evolution

All species originate through the process of biological evolution. It involves a series of natural changes which causes species to arise , adapt to the environment, and become extinct. Species refer to a group whose adult members consistently interbreed, resulting in fertile offspring. The scientific name of humans are Homo sapiens. 

Change in the genetic material results in evolution. The segments of DNA which provide chemical code for producing proteins are called genes. A change in the information contained in the DNA is known as mutation. Genes influence the body or behavior of an organism. Genetically inherited characteristics influence an organism’s survival and reproduction. 

Evolution is not about changing any single individual, rather it is about changing the inherited means of growth and development which typify a population. Adaptive genetic changes are passed to the offspring by their parents, the changes finally end up being common throughout a population. Genetic characteristics which enhance their chances of survival and ability to give birth are inherited by the offspring. Genetic change can modify a species’ general way of life over the years. This includes what it eats, how it grows, and where it lives. Genetic variations in early ancestor populations helped them adapt to the environmental changes, altering their way of life – this is called human evolution!

Check your knowledge

  Answer) The extensive process of change by which humans originated from ape-like ancestors is called human evolution.

  Answer) The ability to walk on two legs is called bipedalism.

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