Prehistoric Life

'cientists believe that the earliest stages of human evolution began in Africa about seven million years ago as a population of African apes evolved into three different species: gorillas, chimpanzees, and humans. Some three million years later early humans stood nearly upright and had developed larger brains, about half the size of the modern brain. By 2.5 million years ago it appears that these protohumans, as early humans are known, began to use crude tools such as chipped stones. Beginning about one million years ago, early humans began to migrate out of Africa and into other parts of the world. In a process that appears to have been completed around 10,000 B.C.E., humans spread throughout the world, populating most of the major landmasses of the earth.

As evolution continued man became taller and more intelligent and capable. He evolved from the species Australopithecus into Homo habilus into Homo erectus and finally, about 500,000 years ago, into the direct ancestors of modern man, Homo sapiens. Yet human development was not done. Neanderthal man, an early subspecies of Homo sapiens in human evolution, survived from about 200,000 years ago to about 30,000 years ago. Neanderthal man developed in several areas of the world and began to use more tools to hunt, to build shelters, and to develop the first known forms of human clothing. Evidence of Neanderthal man's existence has been found in Europe


THE BEGINNING OF HUMAN LIFE ■ Early humans wrap themselves in animal hides for warmth.

c. 10,000 b.c.e. ■ Tattooing is practiced on the Japanese islands, in the Jomon period (c. 10,000-300 B.C.E.). Similarly scarification, the art of carving designs into the skin, has been practiced since ancient times in Oceania and Africa to make a person's body more beautiful or signify a person's rank in society.

c. 3100 b.c.e. ■ Egyptians weave a plant called flax into a light cloth called linen and made dresses and loincloths from it.

c. 3100 b.c.e. ■ Egyptians shave their heads to keep themselves clean and cool in the desert heat, but covered their heads with wigs of various styles.

Humans populated most of the major landmasses on Earth

The first human settlements were developed in Mesopotamia

10,000 b.c.e.

7000 b.c.e.

and in parts of Africa and the Middle East, but it is clear that the population was fairly small and not spread around the world.

Cavepeople often wore loincloths made of animal skin. Reproduced by permission of© Bettmann/


Cavepeople often wore loincloths made of animal skin. Reproduced by permission of© Bettmann/


Egyptian Loin Skirt

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