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  • Writer's pictureSinead Mackintosh

Cradle of Humankind Part 2

Updated: Mar 17, 2019

(Skull on the far left). In Africa, roughly 3.3 million years ago Australopithecus africanus roamed the lands. They were small ape like creatures that walked upright and were about 138 cm tall and 41 kg for males, their fossils have only been found in Southern Africa so far and there are many questions still surrounding their history. Possibly one of the most famous fossils is one of the A. africanus affectionately known as the “Taung child” discovered in 1924. Upon further investigation it is thought that the “Taung child” was around three years old when it died, and cause of death is likely an eagle attack! Imagine living in fear from animals on the ground and in the sky! You can read more about this at: http://humanorigins.si.edu/evidence/human-fossils/fossils/taung-child


(Skull in the middle). About a million years later Homo habilis appeared in Eastern and Southern Africa, and they are some of the earliest members of the Homo genus which includes us. They weren’t much bigger than A. africanus, but they had larger braincases and their name Homo habilis actually means “Handy man” because they used stone tools. Again, lots of questions still surround this early hominid species, but hopefully they could fight off bird attacks with their stone tools! You can read more about this at: http://humanorigins.si.edu/evidence/human-fossils/species/homo-habilis



(Skull on the right). Two million years ago Homo ergaster appeared, also called the “Working Man”, these hominids are thought to be the first to make and use Acheulean stone tools like cleavers and hand-axes, they are also thought to have used fire to keep themselves warm and cook foods. This gave this species a great advantage and the ability to migrate to colder areas. They probably argued about how they like to cook their food like modern day humans do! There is a debate whether Homo ergaster is a separate species or an earlier ancestor of Homo erectus, but either way these guys opened up a whole new world for themselves with the control of fire! You can read more about this at: https://www.maropeng.co.za/content/page/homo

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