Human Evolution  

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4.4 mya


Ardipithecus ramidus
The most primitive hominid yet found, this species has more chimpanzee-like features than any other human ancestor. Ardipithecus ramidus may have walked upright. Other fossils discovered with A. ramidus suggest that the species lived in the forest.

first fossils found 1992

4.2 - 3.9 mya

Australopithecus anamensis
Exhibiting some chimp-like characteristics, A. anamensis' jaws are more primitive than those of later hominids. And yet, its humerus (an arm bone) is quite human-like. Characteristics of its tibia (a lower leg bone) indicate that A. anamensis walked on two feet.

first fossil found 1965

3.5 - 2.9 mya


Australopithecus afarensis
This species includes "Lucy," the 3.2 million year old fossil found by Donald Johanson. A. afarensis' small braincases and relatively large teeth and chewing muscles are similar to those of chimpanzees. However, their teeth, as well as their leg and pelvis bones, exhibit human-like characteristics. They ranged in height from three and a half feet to five feet and walked upright.

first fossils found 1973

3.0 - 2.4 mya


Australopithecus africanus
Although similar in many ways to A. afarensis, this species had a slightly larger brain (but still only slightly larger than a chimp's brain), smaller canine teeth, and larger molars. The wear of the teeth suggests that A. africanus ate fruits and foliage.

first fossils found 1924
a_africanus.jpg (10725 byte)

2.1 - 1.6 mya


Australopithecus robustus
Believed to be roughly the same size as A. afarensis, A. robustus had a large, "robust" (heavier, thicker) skull, as well as a jaw and large teeth that were well adapted to chewing. Like some present-day apes, this species had a "sagittal crest" (a ridge running from front to back on the top of the skull) from which muscles running to the jaw were attached.

first fossil found 1938

2.3 - 1.1 mya


Australopithecus boisei
A. boisei is similar to A. robustus, except that its skull and teeth are even larger. Some experts consider the two closely related, both branching from another species called A. aethiopicus. Others believe A. robustus evolved from A. africanus. Like all of the other Autralopithecus species, A. boisei walked upright.

first fossil found 1959
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2.4 - 1.5 mya


Homo habilis
Homo habilis, which actually means "handy man," is apparently the first species to make and use primitive(

or also see 
(see photo)
. About five feet tall and weighing 100 pounds, H. habilis had a brain that was larger than the largest Autralopithecus brain, but smaller than the Homo erectus brain. 

first fossil found 1960
a_habilis.jpg (9723 byte)

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1.8 mya - 300,000 years ago

Homo erectus
The first example of Homo erectus, known as "Java Man," was discovered in Indonesia in 1893. Fossil remains of Homo erectus have since been found throughout Africa and Asia, making it the first wide-ranging hominid. Despite the primitive appearance of its skull, the erectus skeleton is very similar to that of modern humans, although more robust (thicker and heavier). Homo erectus was probably the first hominid to use fire .

first fossil found in 1893
a_erectus.jpg (9133 byte)


500,000 - 200,000 years ago

Homo sapiens (archaic)
Also known as Homo heidelbergensis, this species has a brain that was larger than H. erectus' and smaller than that of a modern human. The brain was enclosed in a skull that was more rounded than H. erectus'. Fossil remains of archaic Homo sapiens have been found in Africa and Europe.
first fossil found in 1921 Homo sapiens (archaic)



230,000 - 30,000 years ago

Homo sapiens neanderthalensis
Averaging five and a half feet in height and possessing short limbs, Neanderthals were well-adapted to living in a cold climate. Attached to their robust (thick and heavy) bones were powerful muscles. The Neanderthal's brain was larger than the brain of living humans, although its shape was longer from front to back and not as rounded in the front.
first fossil found in 1856

homo neanderthal                              







120,000 years ago - present

Homo sapiens (modern)
Modern Homo sapiens, also known as Homo sapiens sapiens, have been around for the past 120,000 years. Homo sapiens living about 40,000 years ago made elaborate tools out of bone, antler,ivory,stone, and wood,and produced fine artwork in the form of carvings and cave

                                           Homo sapiens (modern)

first "Cro-Magnon" specimens found in 1868

pitture in grotta:l'Uomo scopre l'arte e la coscienza della vita e della morte