The Earth has a 4.6 billion year history. However, Archaic Homo Sapiens (Modern Humans) evolved between 400,000 and 250,000 years ago. Humans evolved from the family Hominid (great apes), that existed on earth around 20 million years ago. Unlike today, there were different human species that existed on earth. However, the characteristics of these human species are different. Not all species of humans survived the journey. Many of them became extinct. The only species left in the human race is our ancestor Homo Sapiens.
The possibility of humans being linked to the apes came after the publication of Charles Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species” in 1859. He first pointed out that, every species has emerged from an earlier one. Later, two scientist Thoman Huley and Richard Owen supported him. Huxley published a book in 1863 entitled “The Evidence as to Man’s Place in Nature.” Even though there were several views and theories by various scientists, the major problem was the proof – the lack of fossil intermediaries. Eugene Dubois discovered the first fossil intermediary in 1891 at Trinil proving that there were species between humans and apes. He proclaimed his finding as Pithecanthropus Erectus or Java man. Today, humans are classified as Homo Erectus (humans that stand upright). Additional fossils were discovered in Africa in 1920. The study of the evolution of Humans began thereafter. Here is the list of 7 Homo species that existed on Earth throughout history.
7. Homo Heidelbergensis
Homo Heidelbergensis lived on earth between 700,000 to 200,000 years ago. They emerged from Africa. The Heidelbergensis male was about 175cm tall and weighed around 136 lbs, whereas the female average height was 157 cm tall and weighed 112 lbs. They had a large brain case with a flatter face than that today’s humans. They were the first human species that were adaptable to colder climates. They were also widely known for their ability to hunt large animals, which was not seen in the human species before them. They were the first human species to build their own living shelter.
Their first fossil was discovered on October 21, 1907, by a worker. The workman handed it over to professor Otto Schoetensack from the University of Heidelberg, who later identified and named the fossil.
6. Homo Rudolfensis
Homo Rudolfensis is another debatable extinct species that falls under Hominid category. They are believed to have lived around 1.9 million to 1.8 million years ago. Their physical structure like weight and height is still unknown due to the lack of cranial fossils.
Meave Leakey’s team announced the discovery of a face and two jawbones belonging to Homo Rudolfensis on 8 August 2012. The fossil known as KNM-ER 1470 was the center of the debate. It was first stated to be around 3 million years old. However, later it was corrected to be 1.9 million years. The difference in the skull from other Homo Habilis species created a new species named Homo Rudolfensis.
There are the certain features of the ER 1470 showing that it is not different from the other Homo species such as the lack of heavy muscle and crests of australopithecine crania, occipital smoothly rounded bone like Homo erectus and more. However, other key features suggest that they are different from other Homo species with much longer faces, the upper part being narrower than the middle, and much more Megadont Postcanines etc.
5. Homo Abilis
Homo Habilis was another species of the Hominid tribe who lived on earth from 2.4 to 1.4 million years ago. Homo Habilis possessed some of the ape-like features such as long arms and a moderately prognathic face. They have a larger brain case in the range of 550 cm to 687 cm. However, they have a smaller face and smaller teeth. There was the controversial debate in regard to classifying it as a Homo since it had very few characteristics of other homo species. Scientists discovered that they had the capacity to use stone tools for various purposes.
There are three key fossils available of Homo Habilis: KNM-ER 1813, OH 24, OH 8. The first fossil was found by the team of scientists Louis and Mary Leakey at Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania in the 1960’s.
4. Homo Floresiensis
Homo Floresiensis was believed to have lived from 95,000 to 17,000 years ago in Indonesia. They were quite small is size around 3.5 feet tall with a tiny brain. There is evidence, that Homo Floresiensis made small stone tools and used to hunt small elephants and large rodents.
The key fossils of Homo Floresiensis were found in 2003 in Indonesia and were named LB-1. The female head was 1/3 size of the current human brain. Perhaps their small body enabled them to survive on the small island with limited resources.
3. Homo erectus
Homo erectus is an extinct species of early human that lived throughout the Pleistocene from about 1.9 million years to most recently, 143,000 years ago. The study of the fossil, discovered by scientists proved that Homo erectus originated in Africa and spread through India, China, Georgia, and Java.
The first Erectus fossil was discovered in Java, Dutch East Indies (present Indonesia) in the early 1890’s by Eugène Dubois, Homo erectus was generally in the range of 4 ft 9 inches to 6ft 1 inch with a weight around 88 to 150 lbs. Their height and weight were different from the fossils found in different parts of the world. The fossils from Africa had a larger body size than those of Indonesia, China, and Georgia. Their elongated legs and short arms helped them climb trees easily and to run faster than present human beings.
2. Homo Neanderthals
Neanderthal is an extinct species of human with the closest similarity to modern humans. Their DNA is just 0.12% different than modern humans. The Neanderthal was believed to have existed from about 600,000 to 30,000 years ago. Neanderthal lived throughout Europe and southwest to Central Asia. Neanderthals had most of the features of modern humans. They used different tools for hunting. They wore symbolic ornamental objects. There is an evidence that they used to bury their dead with offerings such as flowers. There were also earlier human species that engaged in such symbolic behavior.
The Scientific study indicates that the Neanderthal brain and modern human brain were similar at birth. However, in adulthood, their brains became larger. They were stronger than modern humans with a huge body size, male (164-168 cm) and female (156-158 cm).
1. Homo sapiens
Homo sapiens are the ancestors of modern humans. Most of the other hominid species that existed on the earth became extinct during the many climactic changes.
Homo sapiens lived together, hunted food and evolved to such an extent, that they could cope with the climactic changes that occurred. Besides hunting, they discovered the breeding of certain plants and animals, which changed history forever. Soon they learned to produce more food. They ate a variety of animals and food plants. Their control over fire and their ability to live in larger groups also created the concept of better shelters.
The scientist has found various fossils, that support strong evidence that Homo sapiens existed. The oldest known fossils were discovered in Herto, Ethiopia. The researcher from the University of California found the skulls of two adults and a child, which lived around 160,000 to 40,000 years before modern times.