The Human Evolutionary Tree is probably one of the best ways to establish the link between humans and related species which existed in the past. I have tried to make this tree as comprehensive as possible, and yet basic enough for almost anybody to understand. You need to remember that a human evolution tree can never be fully complete as we have yet to discover a ‘missing link’ and is highly unlikely this will ever happen as the fossil record will never be 100% complete as you need to remember that evolution is a constant process. Let’s take a little look at the evolutionary tree of human beings. For the purposes of this article we will ignore what happened before the ‘age of mammals’ although you should be aware that the humans evolved from reptiles and bacteria many millions of years ago (billions of years ago in some cases!).
Primates started to come around 65,000,000 years ago. In fact, they popped up shortly after dinosaurs died out and are a direct descendent of them. This was the earliest record of opposable thumbs being discovered.
This stage happened around 47 million years ago and was the point that primates acquired forward facing eyes, an incredibly important feature for survival. This is the link between lemurs and apes.
This stage happened 30 million years ago. This is the point where it is believed that primates, moneys in particular started to evolve in different directions. This is a key part of the evolution of human beings.
This is the earliest form of Ape that is known to exist and it happened around 27 million years ago. It was at this point that some of the ‘old world monkeys’ started to acquire qualities that we commonly associate with apes nowadays, for example, much stronger shoulders, large brains, fantastic vision and the most important, lack of a tail.
This happened 13 million years ago, and this was the start of a genus known as ‘Neogene’. This particular ape-like creature is said to be the most common ancestor of all ape-like creatures that exist nowadays. This was the point where the animal become much larger, stronger and even more intelligent. It also started to become more social than other primates.
This is what is believed to be the last link between chimpanzees and humans. It was at this point that the larynx developed, which is the main reason why our speech patterns are so complex nowadays. This happened 7,000,000 years ago.
This was the point that apes started to walk around the floor a lot more instead of hanging around in trees. This led to bipedalism. This was one of the first species to have the ability to walk on two feet, a common trait amongst humans nowadays. This occurred 4.4 million years ago.
2.5 million years ago is when the earliest human species came into existence. They had much larger brains than their predecessors and started to eat a lot more meat. This was the first species that used stone tools.
This genus occurred 1.7 million years ago. This was the point in which humans began to leave Africa for the first time. They lived entirely on the ground, and over time shorter arms were acquired as they no longer needed long arms for tree living. There was a lot more co-operation between males and females.
This is the last major human species to co-exist with homo sapiens. They had a much larger brain and began to use even more advanced tools. The last of these started to die out around 100,000 years ago.
This is the stage that we are at now, and it began around 100,000 years ago in Africa. However, it was only 50,000 years ago that they began to develop modern behaviors. These behaviors include trade, jewellery making, painting and language. This species has continued to evolve.