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Scientists Stats

A Chronology of Human Evolution
Seven well defined "missing links."
How many more does one need?

Ardipithecus ramidus (4.4 million years ago) : Fossils were discovered in Ethiopia in the 1990s. Pelvis shows adaptations to both tree climbing and upright walking.

Australopithecus afarensis (3.9 - 2.9 million years ago) : The famous "Lucy" skeleton belongs to this species of human relative. So far, fossils of this species have only been found in East Africa. Several traits in the skeleton suggest afarensis walked upright, but they may have spent some time in the trees.

Homo habilis (2.8 - 1.5 million years ago) : This human relative had a slightly larger braincase and smaller teeth than the australopithecines or older species, but retains many more primitive features such as long arms.

Newest Addition (September, 2015)
Homo naledi (Of unknown age, yet, but researchers say it could be as old as three million years) : The new discovery has small, modern-looking teeth, human-like feet but more primitive fingers and a small braincase.

Homo erectus (1.9 million years - unknown) : Homo erectus had a modern body plan that was almost indistinguishable from ours. But it had a smaller brain than a modern person combined with a more primitive face.

Homo heidelbergensis (600,000 years - 200,000 years) Homo heidelbergensis - sometimes called Homo rhodesiensis - is an extinct species of the genus Homo which lived in Africa, Europe and western Asia between 600 and 200 thousand years ago. Its brain was nearly as large as that of a modern Homo sapiens. First discovered near Heidelberg in Germany in 1907.

Homo neanderthalensis (200,000 years - 40,000 years) The Neanderthals were a side-group to modern humans, inhabiting western Eurasia before our species left Africa. They were shorter and more muscular than modern people but had slightly larger brains.

This is us
Homo sapiens (200,000 years - present) Modern humans evolved in Africa from a predecessor species known as Homo heidelbergensis. A small group of Homo sapiens left Africa 60,000 years ago and settled the rest of the world, replacing the other human species they encountered (with a small amount of interbreeding).

5-3-16 These are the simple steps that made us human
These are the simple steps that made us human
Over the course of several million years, primates gradually transformed into humans. This video shows you the key changes along the way.

Our closest living relatives are the great apes, and there are 6 species alive today: chimpanzees, bonobos, two species of gorilla and two species of orangutan. They all branched off from the primates just like we did, but separately from the human branch. They are not our ancestors.

Also see our Deep Time Table

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A Chronology of Human Evolution
Seven well defined "missing links."
How many more does one need?