Humanity's origin has been the subject of a fair amount of debate and question, not to mention controversy. Not much is really known with any amount of verifiable certainty. What can be certain is that at some point a certain group of reptiles evolved into the earliest mammal form from which all others mammals are descended. But evolution did not stop there. The earliest mammals continued to differentiate into what would become the basic classes of mammalian life.
While Humans are technically related to Cats, it is only in the sense that both are Mammals and therefore share primordial mammals as a common ancestor. By the time of the last Ice Age, the two lines had clearly parted into two entirely separate lines of speciation. In similar fashion, we are likewise related to the Great Apes. However, by the time of Cromagnon and Neanderthal men, our line had clearly separated from the line that would give birth to Monkeys, Gorillas, Gibbons, and other such.
It is difficult to pinpoint anything with solid precision because:
- Access to usable data is incomplete and
- Understanding of that data is still in a state of flux.
For example, it was once thought that Neanderthals were among our ancestors, as they gave rise to Cromagnon's, who in turn gave rise to us. That is now believed to be incorrect. It has subsequently been determined that Neanderthals and Cromagnons were separate contemporary branches of an earlier ancestor. Neanderthals proved to be a dead-end, even as Cromagnon gave rise to Homo Sapiens. That is to say, modern day humans.
It is currently believed that modern day humanity has its origins in Africa. Dispersal is believed to have occurred through several separate migrations. Current evidences suggests that the first migrations sent humans across Africa, and then into west Asia. Followed by a subsequent one into southern Asia and Melanesia. Only later was there a similar dispersion into the northern regions of Europe and Asia.
However humans came to be, the first traces tend to be found in caves. In somes cases skeletons are found, in others not. But always there are implements, and more important, paintings are to be found. Almost from the beginning, art has been an integral part of human life, be it painting, be it carving or sculpture, be it whatever.
Humans developed in a time of changing conditions. The world was changing from a period of extreme frigidity to a time of greater temperateness. And as conditions changed, so did circumstances. In the early stages Europe was dominated by reindeer hunters and tundra. But as the climate warmed, forest cover took over, and the reindeer either move North or died out. As the reindeer migrated North, other animals moved in. Existing humans either adapted or migrated with the reindeer. Meanwhile, other people from the south migrated in pursuit of the changing climate. A change that is believed to have occurred roughly 12,000 years ago. And so it was throughout much of the world of that time.
- The phylogeography of Y chromosome binary haplotypes and the origins of modern human populations
- A landmark study of human journey
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