There are no written records in existence for the prehistory of mankind. The story of humanity depends upon archaeological. and more recently, biological information, which anthropologists and archaeologists use to formulate theories of our early past. Although modern science has given us more precise methods for examining prehistory, much of our understanding of early humans still relies on conjecture.
The earliest human-like creatures- known as hominids- Existed in Africa as long as 3 – 4 million years ago. Known as Australopithecus, they flourished in East and South Africa and were the first hominids to make simple stone tools.
Another stage of development occurred around 1.5 million years ago when Homo erectus emerged. These hominids made use of larger more varied tools, and was the first hominid to leave Africa and move into both Europe and Asia.
Around 250,000 years ago, a crucial stage in human development began with the emergence of Homo sapiens. These more modern appearing hominids appeared in Africa between 200,000 and 150,000 years ago. Recent evidence indicates that they began to spread outside of Africa around 70,000 years ago.
This map shows probable dates for different movements, although many of these are still controversial.
These modern humans, who were our direct ancestors, soon encountered other hominids, such as the Neanderthals, whose remains were first found in the Neander valley in Germany. Neanderthal remains have since been found in both Europe and the western part of Asia. They have been dated between 200,000 – 30,000 BCE. Neanderthals relied on a variety of stone tools and were the first early people to bury their dead, By 30,000 BCE, Homo sapiens had replace the Neanderthals, who had largely become extinct, and by 10,000 BCE, members of the Homo sapien species could be found throughout the world. By that time it was the only human species left. All humans today, whether they are European, Australian, Aborigines, or Africans, belong to the subspecies of human beings.