Why are people around the world different

Origin of man

It all started in Africa

Life on earth developed more than 3.5 billion years ago, but human development began very gradually "only" six million years ago. Climate changes and changing environmental influences forced early humans to adapt more and more.

About two million years ago, the early human form entered the stage of life in Africa. He knew how to handle fire and developed sophisticated tool techniques. That made him independent of his surroundings. Now there was no stopping his triumphant advance. He conquered deserts, mountains and seas and finally settled the whole world.

But why did this development start in Africa? Couldn't man have developed somewhere else? Surely he would. For a while, researchers also believed that Europe or Asia was the origin of our ancestors.

Paleoanthropology is an arduous and very theoretical business. Theories also have to be revised, depending on what finds are just coming to light, how exactly the dating and interpretation of these fossil remains succeed. In the course of research on prehistoric human beings, there have been repeated finds that have thrown the previously valid idea of ​​human evolution into disarray.

Today it is clear that all hominid finds older than two million years come exclusively from Africa. The starting shot for the Incarnation was given six million years ago. Scientists are not asking themselves why humans developed in Africa of all places. But: how?

Africa six million years ago

About eight to six million years ago, most of Africa was still covered by tropical rainforest. The seasonal changes were not very pronounced and the water temperatures in the depths of the oceans were on average 10 degrees warmer than today.

During this time there was a climatic change. The rainforest receded. Living conditions changed on its fringes. The resulting tree savannah offered a greater variety of habitats. Here the trees were too far apart to continue to shimmy from branch to branch. Walking upright in these areas could be useful in order to survive.

The development of the common ancestors of humans and great apes splits up, creating two separate strands. It was the first step towards being human. The upright gait did not arise, as is still often heard, in the savannah. As far as we know today, humans began their development on the edge of the tropical rainforest in Africa.

2.8 million years ago there was another radical change in the climate that had a lasting impact on the development of our earliest ancestors. The ocean temperatures dropped and icy times began on the continents.

First primitive tools

In Africa, too, it got a few degrees cooler. In addition to the global changes, there were also regional changes. This is how the African Rift developed, a mountain range that had an impact on the regional climate.

Mighty mountain ranges piled up on the edge of the rift valley. They formed a weather divide: while heavy rainfall fell on the west side, a large part of eastern Africa remained relatively dry. Savannah landscapes emerged, the food became dry and hard-shelled.

Only the early humans who could cope with the changed menu could survive. Some made it with large molars, like that Australopithecus. The others used primitive tools for the first time (Homo rudolfensis) to crack the food, thereby knocking their competitors out of the running. Your line leads to homo sapiens.

So our earliest ancestors always had to adapt to the different living conditions. Within a hominid species there were also always different geographical variants that lived in different places at the same time.

All of them have developed their respective survival strategies, which does not necessarily make it easier for scientists to assign fossil hominid finds.

Out of Africa

In addition to evolutionary change as an adaptation, migration is a clever strategy to maintain the habitat. Anyone who wants to cope everywhere also needs tools with which they can master the challenges of the respective region.

With his tools, humans made themselves independent of direct environmental influences for the first time. It first spread in Africa. In the course of time he also developed hunting techniques and learned to deal with fire.

Our ancestors were well equipped to leave the African continent. At least two million years ago, humans conquered new territory. Again, depending on the requirements of their living environment, different variants developed within the primitive human family, which were now also widespread in Europe and the Middle East.

The most successful of them, Homo Sapiens, also emerged in Africa half a million years ago. And he too went on a journey. homo sapiens, modern man, left Africa about 120,000 years ago for India and on to the Middle East. Its extreme adaptability made it superior to its related species. And he colonized the whole world.