By Natural Philosopher Mike Prestwood
Timeline Story

Intelligence Settles: Homo Habilis

Intelligence Settles: Homo Habilis

When: 2.3 Million BCE
Note: 2.3 to 1.65 Million BCE
Absolute Years From Now: -2300000
Story Reference Date: 06/27/2021
92,000 Generations Ago

First Earth Explorer: Homo Habilis lived about 2.3 to 1.65 million BCE. They had larger brains than predecessors and used stone tools as well as used and controlled fire. They were likely the first hominids to explore most of the Earth. We know these hominids evolved into at least 20 known species of which only Homo Sapiens survive today.

The advent of Homo habilis represents a milestone in the journey of intelligence in the human lineage. Known as “handy man,” Homo habilis’s association with the earliest stone tools evidences an unprecedented level of cognitive ability, including foresight, planning, and the ability to manipulate the environment in complex ways. These early humans not only solved problems and adapted tools to new uses but also likely had a rudimentary understanding of social cooperation and communication necessary for collaborative hunting and gathering. The intellectual capabilities of Homo habilis paved the way for further developments in human cognition, leading to advanced tool use, language, and the complex societal structures that define our species today.

Some of our extinct distant cousins but NOT* our ancestors:

  • Homo antecessor: 1.2 million to 800,000 BCE (Spain; maybe England and France)
  • Homo erectus**: 2 million to 108,000 BCE (Eurasia)
  • Homo floresiensis: 60,000 to 50,000 BCE (Indonesian island of Flores)
  • Homo luzonensis: 67,000 to 50,000 BCE (Philippines)
  • Homo naledi: 335,000 to 236,000 BCE (Africa, along side our direct ancestors)

Our distant cousins exhibited some human traits including cave dwelling, controlled fire, team hunting, and butchering of prey with tools. The surviving tools found are made of stone and bone but it is very likely they used other less durable types of materials like wood, vines, feathers, sticks, etc. For example, the hand axe dates back to before 2 million BCE. All this evidence indicates these human traits likely evolved before 2 million BCE.

*No valid evidence, and not currently thought to be an ancestor. 
**There is a debatable hypothesis that homo erectus explored the world, returned to Africa, and those that returned evolved into homo ergaster and are our direct line ancestors.

Scroll to Top