Envolution around 5 million BC

The Globe

It is an inescapable fact of genetics that all people alive in the world are genetically related, and that at some point an individual existed whom we all claim as an ancestor. The only points of debate are how long ago that ancesor lived, and where. DNA data suggests all modern humans are genetic descendants of one small inbred group of prehistoric Africans. (Patterns in Prehistory)

This "African Eve Hypothesis" is based on the study of DNA taken from the mitocondria, which are features in human cells where energy to keep the cell functioning is produced. (Patterns in Prehistory)

There is now general consensus that there were at least four broad categories of hominid that emerged after the split from the ancient chimpanzee lineage - although any new discovery has the potential to change this. The evolutionary pathway appears to have led first from a common ancestor with the chimpanzee to the genus Ardipithecus between four and five million years ago and then to the gracile australopithecines before the emergence of the robust australopithecines and our own genus Homo, approximately 2.5 million years ago. (In the footsteps of Eve)

The australopithecines as a group emerged between four and five million years ago and, in the face of the changing African environment, underwent a number of evolutionary adaptations before disappearing into extinction approximately one million years ago. (In the footsteps of Eve)

At the beginning of the 1990s, there were about eight species of hominid known to have existed between five million years and one million years. Today, we recognize no less than 13 early hominid species, and the numbers of "new" species will grow as the science progresses. (In the footsteps of Eve)


So in the end, we find that Homo habilis is about as substantial as a desert mirage, appearing now humanlike, now apelike, now real, now unreal, according to the tendency of the viewer. Taking the many conflicting views into consideration, we find it most likely that the Homo habilis material belongs to more than one species, including a small, apelike, arboreal australopithecine (OH 62 and some of the Olduvai specimens), a primitive species of Homo (ER 1470 skull), and anatomically modern humans (ER 1481 and ER 1472 femurs). Like Louis and Richard Leakey, Oxnard believed that the Homo line was far more ancient than the standard evolutionary scenario allows. In this connection, Oxnard called attention to some of the fossils we have previously discussed, such as the humanlike ER 813 talus, over 1.5 million years old, and the Kanapoi humerus, perhaps 4 or more million years old. From such evidence, Oxnard concluded that the genus Homo was 5 or more million years old. "The conventional notion of human evolution," said Oxnard, "must now be heavily modified or even rejected...new concepts must be explored." (The Hidden History of the Human Race)

Although I have argued the case for a southern African origin of humans, I believe that the underlying message that arises from a dispassionate view of the present evidence is that we are not in a position to identify a single region of Africa as the birthplace of humankind, particularly in the early hominid record. If anything, the evidence at hand suggests many evolutionary experiments were conducted during the course of the last four or five million years of human evolution across the continent. (In the footsteps of Eve)

Southwest Asia




Indus Valley






South America




North America

In an address to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, delivered in August, 1879, O. C. Marsh, president of the Association and one of America's foremost paleontologists, said about Tertiary man: "The proof offered on this point by Professor J. D. Whitney in his recent work (Aurif. Gravels of Sierra Nevada) is so strong, and his careful, conscientious method of investigation so well known, that his conclusions seem irresistible...At present, the known facts indicate that the American beds containing human remains and works of man, are as old as the Pliocene of Europe. The existence of man in the Tertiary period seems now fairly established." (The Hidden History of the Human Race)