55 million years ago – The first primates appear.
8-6 million years ago – The first gorillas evolve. Later, the ancestors of chimpanzees and those of man diverge.
7 million years ago – Sahelanthropus tchadensis , discovered in Chad. Although it predates the separation of the human evolutionary line (about 6 million years ago), it represents the first evidence of a hominid able to walk on two legs.
5.8 million years ago – Orrorin tugenensis , the oldest ancestor of man who habitually walked on his legs. His remains found in Kenya, and in particular a femur, have a structure that made scientists speculate that he was used to moving on two legs, even though he was able to climb.
5.5 million years ago – The genus Ardipithecus appears . It shares some traits with chimpanzees and gorillas, lives in the forest. It used 2 legs on the ground and all 4 when moving on branches.
The most important find is that of Ardi, a female specimen of Ardipithecus ramidus who lived 4.4 million years ago.
4 million years ago – Australopithecines make their appearance. Their brains are already larger than that of a chimpanzee – with a volume of 400/500 cm3. They are the first ancestors to live in the savannah.
If, as claimed by the most current paleoanthropological theories, the development of the brain began “from the feet”, that is the way of walking, the fossil tracks found prove that already about 3.6 million years ago are the feet of hominids (perhaps those of species Australopithecus afarensis ) were more similar to those of modern man than those of Ardipithecus.
3.2 million years ago – This is the time when Lucy lives, the famous female monkey ( A. afarensis ) discovered in Ethiopia by the American paleoanthropologist Donald Johanson. It lacks the lower extremities, but the bones of the legs and the pelvis show that the standing position was acquired: the hominids almost always moved in that position, not only for some stretches.
2.9 million years ago – According to the most accredited theories, the tree of evolution at that time split into two main branches. The first includes some species of hominids – such as Paranthropus aethiopicus (lived in present-day Ethiopia and Tanzania), equipped with powerful jaws to grind leathery vegetable foods, such as nuts and roots for example. They live in the woods and grasslands. And they died out 1.2 million years ago.
In the hominids belonging to the second branch, such as Australopithecus africanus , the teeth and jaws remained light, but the skull developed.
Scientists agree in recognizing this second branch as the progenitor of the genus Homo , that is, the one to which we belong.
2.1 million years ago – Mankind appears, with the species of Homo habilis . He had a more developed skull than the hominids that preceded him, but relatively less powerful jaws, because his diet had become omnivorous: that is, it included a good base of meat, which he obtained by being a “scavenger”, that is, chasing away hyenas and others. predators from the carcasses of dead animals, often acting in groups with similar ones. His stone tools were mainly used to break bones to eat marrow, a very nutritious food.
H. habilis has long been considered the first member of Homo ‘s evolutionary line , but a number of new findings have turned the tables.
2 million years ago – First evidence of Homo ergaster , in Africa, with a brain volume of 850 cm3.
1.8-1.5 million years ago – Homo erectus is found in Asia. He is the first true hunter-gatherer, and also the first to have migrated from Africa in large numbers. It had a brain size of around 1000cm3.
1.6 million years ago – First sporadic use of fire. It is still a hypothesis, suggested by discolored sediments found in Kenya. More convincing evidence of charred wood and stone tools is found in Israel and dates back to 780,000 years ago.
With the beginning of the Acheulean culture, the pebbles began to be worked symmetrically on both sides and to shape them with greater precision with the aid of wooden or bone tools.
600,000 years ago – Homo heidelbergensis lives in Africa and Europe. It has a cranial capacity similar to that of modern humans.
500,000 years ago – The oldest and most well-known remains of purpose-built shelters date back to that period. They are wooden huts found near Chichibu, Japan.
400,000 years ago – The first humans begin to hunt with spears.
500,000 years ago – Neanderthals ( Homo neanderthalensis ) appear. Some scientific articles claim that the separation between Neanderthals and our species dates back to about 800,000 years ago. We find them all over Europe from Great Britain in the west to Iran in the east. They will go extinct – the responsibility of our species, Homo sapiens , is unclear – about 40,000 years ago.
400,000 years ago – Some species of Homo spread in Asia , such as Denisova’s man (he does not yet have a scientific name) in Central Asia and – for now – two species
small in Southeast Asia: Homo floresiensis and Homo luzonesis , respectively on the island of Flores (Indonesia) and Luzon (Philippines).
200,000 years ago – Our species Homo sapiens appears on the scene – and shortly thereafter it begins to expand into Africa. A find in Morocco would trace the earliest human forms to 300,000 years ago. The oldest modern human remains are two skulls found in Ethiopia that date back to this period. The average human brain volume is 1,350 cm3.
170,000 years ago – The “mitochondrial Eve”, the common female ancestor determined by the comparison of mitochondrial DNA, always transmitted by the mother, of individuals of various ethnic groups or regions, dates back to this period.
150,000 years ago – Men probably talk. Some shells used as jewelry and dating back 100,000 years could be a signal that humans were able to develop complex speech and resort to symbolism.
140,000 years ago – First evidence of long-distance trade.
110,000 years ago – First pearls – made from ostrich egg shells – and jewels.
70,000 YEARS AGO – Anatomically modern man comes out of Africa and begins his expansion all over the world. First in Asia-Australia (where it reached 50,000 years ago), then in Europe, where it arrived about 45,000 years ago.
50,000 years ago – This is the era of the “Great Leap Forward”: human culture begins to change much more rapidly than before; the dead are ritually buried; clothes are made from animal skins; and complex hunting techniques are developed.
35,000 years ago – According to some findings, the domestication of dogs dates back to this period. In the past, it was believed that friendship between dogs and humans began only 10,000 years ago.
33,000 years ago – The oldest rock art dates back to this period. Stone Age artists create spectacular murals in Chauvet in France, then in other caves in France and Spain. There are less complex earlier examples in Asia. Homo erectus dies out in Asia – replaced by modern man.
15,000 years ago – Modern humans reach the Americas.
11,000 years ago – Agriculture develops and spreads. The first villages are born.
5,500 years ago – The Stone Age ends and the Bronze Age begins: men begin to melt and work copper and tin, and use them instead of stone tools.
5,000 years ago – First known writing.