Where did we come from? How did we become human? What’s the origin of our species? It is hard to imagine our understanding of humanity without, of course, Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. Writing in his iconic The Origin of Species, Darwin said:
“I think it inevitably follows, that as new species in the course of time are formed through natural selection, others will become rarer and rarer, and finally extinct.”
Our own family tree testifies to this age-old pattern of extinction, adaption, and evolution. The modern human, Homo sapiens is just one branch of the Homo genus, and our ancestors were as diverse as they were varied —from the grandparent of the Homo genus, Australopithecus afraensis, to Homo habilis (who managed to tame fire) and the famous Neanderthal, which, as scientists and archaeologists are beginning to uncover, were a far more complex and developed species than we first imagined.
To celebrate his birthday and Darwin Day, the University Press Scholarship Online (UPSO) team has read through the hundreds of academic works available to delve into the history of humanity. View our infographic below and find out for yourself how we became human.
Do you want to discover more about the evolution of humans? Read the chapters we used to create this graphic, now available for a limited time: ‘Henri’s Cave: On Our Origin‘ from How Life Began, ‘Adapted Individuals, Adapted Environments‘ from The Evolved Apprentice, ‘The Origins and Evolution of Homo sapiens‘ from Evolution and Religious Creation Myths, ‘Who Were the Neanderthals?‘ from Darwinian Detectives, and ‘Thinking from an evolutionary perspective‘ from How Homo Became Sapiens.
Featured image credit: Hands at the Cuevas de las Manos upon Río Pinturas by Mariano. CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.