Tribal history of man

From Australopithecus to genus homo

The beginning of the tribal history of man can be located approximately at the time when the last split of a previously common population of ancestors of humans and the chimpanzees took place. Chimpanzees are the closest to humans on a phylogenetic basis. The human genome differs only to 1.37% of that of the chimpanzee, 1.75% of the gorilla and 3.4% of the orangutan (Source:
In the reconstruction of the tribal history of man, the few and poorly preserved fossils prove to be problematic. Thus, conclusions about food, habitat or time span of the existence of a species were drawn in part only from individual finds. Therefore, the following list of known hominin neither make any claim to completeness or accuracy.

The Australopithecus

The Australopithecines (Latin australis = south, Greek pithekos = monkey) lived about 4 to 2 million years ago and include several species, including the Australopithecus africanus, as well as the Australopithecus afarensis, which also includes the world famous fossil "Lucy" , Most of the finds were made in East Africa (see graph on the right). From the fossil finds one knows that the Australopithecinen lived predominantly in forests and near rivers. Because of this, locomotion is suspected on all fours, simply because walking on two legs in woods is more likely to be a disadvantage.

Homo rudolfensis

The Homo rudolfensis (named after the find in Kenya at the Rudolfsee) is the oldest of the Hominids and lived 2.5 to 1.9 million years ago in East Africa. Compared to Australopithecines, H. rudolfensis has nearly twice the brain volume of about 700-800 cm³. The increased brain volume is probably due to the diet, which was significantly more meat. Nevertheless, no connection can be made between greater brain volume and higher intelligence.

Homo habilis

The Homo habilis (Latin habilis = sent) is with the Homo rudolfensis the earliest representatives of the genus Homo and thus ancestor of Homo sapiens. He lived 2 to 1.5 million years ago. In addition, the accompanying findings of Homo habilis suggest a use of the first simple stone tools. For a long time it was not clear whether one should recognize the Homo habilis as an independent species, or belong to the Australopithecines. Today, however, the Homo habilis is recognized as a separate species, which is mainly due to the different diets of the two species. The diet of H. habilis consisted of significantly higher proportions of meat.

Homo erectus

The Homo erectus (Latin erigere = erect, lived from 1.9 million - 300,000) is the first hominid used the locomotion on two legs permanently. There are localities in East Africa, Central Europe, East Asia and even Indonesia, which impressively document the advantage of the upright gait. Because this way the hands were released, so to speak, for other tasks. Homo erectus made complex stone tools and weapons for hunting. Even the use of the fire is at least proven for the 'late' Homo erectus. From the H. erectus developed the species Homo heidelbergensis and probably also the Neanderthals.

The Neanderthal man

The Neanderthals lived about 200,000 to 30,000, and thus at the same time as the modern man. In its behavior, the Neanderthaler is not very different from Homo sapiens. Both are hunters and gatherers, cultivating cultural behaviors (such as burial) and crafting elaborate tools and artifacts.
Many properties are disadvantageous in Neanderthals, such as the more powerful muscles (consumes significantly more energy) or the larger brain. Because the larger the head of infants, the wider the pelvis must be.
To date, there is controversy over whether the Neanderthal man was absorbed in Homo sapiens or whether he died out. The latter view assumes the overlap of the ecological niche of Homo sapiens and Neanderthaler. In that case, both species would have competed for food and habitat and, as a result, Homo sapiens would have prevailed due to better adaptation. The mixing hypothesis is based on a gene flow (ie reproduction) between the two species, which led to the permanent emergence of Neanderthals in Homo sapiens.

homo sapiens

The Homo sapiens (or even modern humans / Nowmensch) exist since approximately 200,000 years. Whether the H. sapiens directly from the h. erectus or another species is difficult to reconstruct. Even anagenesis (species transformation) from Homo erectus to Homo sapiens has been discussed in science. Quite certainly, the Neanderthal man can be excluded as a direct ancestor, with whom we probably share the common, unknown ancestor.