Evolution

Tiger      Ice Age      Humans      Mammoth

Spread of modern humans throughout Eurasia -- Out of Africa, we encounter the pre-humans and fight our way north




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A Godless Philosophy - Contents

Preface  (What's this all about?)

The Story of Evolution

14,000,000,000 y.a. -- The Big Bang
Evolution begins

4,600,000,000 y.a. -- Our Sun and Earth
Stars evolve, producing the complex elements of organic life

2,500,000,000 y.a. -- First life forms on Earth
A bacteria reproduces itself, and the race is on

220,000,000 y.a. -- First mammals
A tiny shrew survives among the dinosaurs

30,000,000 y.a. -- The great apes of Africa
Chimps achieve sociability, planned combat, and use of natural objects as tools

5,000,000 y.a. -- Earliest human ancestors
It looks like a chimp but walks upright

3,000,000 y.a. -- Earliest toolmakers
Still chimp-like, this larger-brained ape makes the first stone tools

1,800,000 y.a. -- Later pre-humans
More human-looking without fur, this naked ape conquers fire and reaches Eurasia   

300,000 y.a. -- Neanderthals
Evolved in Europe's Ice Age, they hunt and kill 7-ton mammoths

50,000 y.a. -- Modern humans (Homo sapiens)
Fully human now, we narrowly escape extinction to follow our destiny

45,000 y.a. -- Spread of modern humans throughout Eurasia
Out of Africa, we encounter the pre-humans and fight our way north

30,000 y.a. -- Extinction of the last pre-humans
Neanderthals, the tough guys, hold out the longest

15,000 y.a. -- First settlements, city-states and empires
It takes us 35,000 years to create the first small city

600 y.a. -- Racial differences and European conquests
Guns, germs and steel

Now -- Human evolution in modern times
Where are we, and what lies ahead?

Theory or Science?  Sources and References


Evolution's Implications  (Summary)


Miscellaneous Musings



Everyone's ancestry traces back to a small band of modern humans who evolved in East Africa 50,000 years ago. Everyone. No exceptions. It doesn't matter if you're an Eskimo, a Swede, a Filipino, an American Indian, or an Australian Aborigine -- your DNA traces back to the same African Adam and Eve as mine.

We humans, geographically separated over tens of thousands of years, have grown apart in stature, skin color, and lifestyle. But underneath, we are all Homo sapiens, with the same brain size, capacity for language, instincts for loving and fighting, and capability to interbreed.

Our origins were hardly auspicious: a scattering of tribes in East Africa comprising a total population of roughly 5,000 people, usually at war with one another, trading goods when they were not. Each tribe was small, no more than 150 people. All were struggling to survive a killing drought, many on the move, desperate to find livable foraging territory for their clan.

One tribe -- quite possibly one tribe only -- escaped the drought by leaving Africa. They had no notion of exterminating every pre-human alive and totally repopulating the Earth, but that's exactly what happened.

There are only two ways out of Africa: north to the Mediterranean and then east toward Jordan; or across the south end of the Red Sea (sea levels 50,000 years ago were 230 feet lower than now, so that might have been possible in rafts or primitive boats).

We don't know which route was taken, but 100,000-year-old refuse dumps of seashells recently discovered on Abdur Reef give some evidence of pre-human seashore settlements, and Abdur Reef's location on the western shore of the Red Sea would be ideal for a crossing to Arabia.

We can infer that our little band took the southern route simply because they were successful. Around 50,000 years ago, most of Eurasia was populated by pre-humans, with Neanderthals occupying the Middle East. It was probably for that reason that our ancestors turned southeast instead of continuing north when they left Africa.

They were modern humans, with our brainpower if not knowledge. Travelling with women and children, they would have made smart decisions about when to fight and when to avoid conflict. Being highly experienced at warfare (think Apaches), it's very likely that even a small clan would have deployed scouts who, if seen, could readily outrun and draw off the shorter-legged Neanderthals.

In any case, our little clan slipped past the Neanderthals, and the great Neanderthal/Homo sapien showdown was effectively postponed for many thousands of years.

Scientists have traced the progress of modern humans over the following generations and determined with some certainty that they reached India long before they reached Europe. Once they were clear of the Neanderthals, their expansion was not a deliberate migration so much as a slow, almost orderly growth every generation or so, step by step over thousands of years, as previously described.

Once established along the southern coasts of Iran and India, some clans continued east and the rest expanded to the north. There they started encountering their archaic, less-evolved ancestors who had lived in Asia for over a million years, and the slow extinction of pre-humans began.


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Copyright © 2011 Marshall C. Whitfield