Sunday, March 15, 2009

Human Evolution 101

<--- Peking Woman

I continue to be fascinated by human evolution. It is especially exciting during the last decade, because scientists are using genetics and more updated dating methods to revise earlier conclusions about human history. Recently, scientists have
revised the dates for the existence of Peking Man in China. Peking Man and Java Man are fossils of the Homo Erectus species. Homo Erectus, like modern humans, derived from Homo Habilis in Africa, about 2.5 million years ago. 'Homo Habilis' means 'Handy Man,' referring to the species' use of tools.

The Homo Erectus species then migrated out of Africa in waves, into Asia and Europe. Homo Erectus migrated out of Africa
before modern humans. The Neanderthals, for example, evolved in Europe from Homo Erectus. Peking Man was thought to exist in China 500,000 years ago, but now scientists find it may be 780,000 years ago. This fact would mean that Homo Erectus was capable of surviving in very frigid temperatures, and that there were likely several waves of migration along different glacial corridors.

Meanwhile, back in Africa the Homo Erectus species evolved into Homo Heidelbergenis, (not confirmed) which later became modern humans. At that point, modern humans migrated out of Africa, and eventually overtook all the ancient Homo Erectus species in Europe and Asia. We are all derived from this relatively small group of modern humans migrating out of Africa. The question still remains, however, if variations found on earth now are a result of intermingling with different Homo Erectus species.

Homo Habilis (Africa)

Homo Erectus (Africa) ---->Out of Africa

Homo Erectus (Asia) ---> Peking Man & Java Man & Homo Erectus (Europe) ------> Neanderthal

Homo Erectus (Africa) ------> Homo Heidelbergenis -----> Cro Magnon (modern humans) ----> Out of Africa

Homo Erectus & Modern Humans compared

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