This timeline represents my understanding of the evolution of our human traits. Since we share many traits with other animals, we know these traits evolved early in our evolutionary story. Hence, most of our traits evolved long before “we” were human.
Also check out: Timeline of Human Evolution and Notable Events.
The millipede Pneumodesmus newmani is the oldest air-breathing animal known to date. This ancient denizen of the Scottish waters once roamed the Earth during the early Silurian era. The millipede likely supplemented its oxygen intake through air as well as using its gills while in water.
The appendix is a small, finger-shaped pouch attached to the large intestine. It has long been considered a vestigial organ, meaning that it has no function in the human body. However, recent research suggests that the appendix may actually serve as a reservoir for beneficial gut bacteria.
The appendix is an example of a Phenotype Variation — a trait that varies among individuals. In fact, something like 1 in 100,000 people are born without an appendix. The presence or absence of the appendix is one example of a variation in humans. However, the presence or absence of the appendix is not a typical example of phenotype variation, as it is not a continuous range of variation within a population. Nonetheless, it is an interesting variation that our descendants over the next eons will certainly observe.
Sahelanthropus tchadensis has two human anatomical traits: small canine teeth, and walking upright on two legs. We believe it walked on two legs because the large opening where the spinal cord exits out of the cranium from the brain is located further forward (on the underside of the cranium) than in apes or any other primate except humans.
The earliest known stone tools date back to at least 2.6 million years ago. These basic stone tools were made and used by early humans–hominids. Did they also use wood tools? Sure, or at least very likely, but we have yet to find any preserved back as far as stone tools which hold up to the test of time much better than wood.
The stone tools include hammerstones, stone cores, and sharp stone flakes. By about 1.76 million years ago, early humans began to make Acheulean handaxes and other large cutting tools.
Homo Heidelbergensis lived from about 700,000 to 200,000 BCE. Several species evolved from this common ancestor and the last known species identified as Heidelbergensis species became extinct about 28,000 BCE. Homo heidelbergensis lived in Africa, Europe, and possibly Asia. They had some of our human characteristics including large brains, small teeth, bipedality, and used tools.
Could Heidelbergensis speak? We believe they had the physical ability to speak (a Hyoid bone), and a complex lifestyle that would require at least simple conversations. For more information, explore archaeological research into the Hyoid bone which is unique to humans today and is required to duplicate our speech.
|Avg. Weight||136 lbs||112 lbs|
By circa 150,000 BCE, the size of our brain and it’s capabilities matured. Think about this. A human born today and a human born in 150,000 BCE had roughly the same mental and physical capacities. This includes all of our traits including our need for attention and power, our ingenuity, our gullibility to believe things, and our intolerance of the unknown and different. If a human from this time landed in a modern morgue, the doctor performing yet another autopsy would most likely think it was a modern human.
How many times since 150,000 BCE did humans create new religions and Gods? How many times did they discover or invent things that were then lost for thousands of years? Human knowledge builds on previous knowledge, but only if it can be passed down, and survive the test of time. It’s reasonable to believe that various forms of writing and labels were developed and lost countless times. Many interesting advances developed, and lost. No doubt, the stubborn belief in myth or dogma has led directly to the suppression of various human advances countless times. Many times through the use of war and genocide.
Let’s look at just one modern human example. We know the Greeks several thousand years ago knew the Earth was a globe. Over time, the information, the advance, was lost because of the belief in myth and a desire to control others.
The modern human DNA evolved sometime between 71,000 and 51,000 BCE. Imagine that. A human baby born today, and a human baby born in 60,000 BCE have nearly indistinguishable DNA. There are differences but essentially humans are the same now as they were then. The popular website 23andme.com focuses on 23 changes in DNA that signify your ancestors recent migration. 23andMe.com, ancestry.com, and many others identify differences for their customers. Finally, the medical community is currently in an intense wave of identifying genetic differences that lead to medical problems with the idea of early diagnosis, prevention, and through the use of mRNA correction.
Through mtDNA sequencing, we currently believe the most recent common ancestor of all the Eurasian, American, Australian, Papua New Guinean, and African lineages dates to between 73,000 and 57,000 years ago.