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Before History

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Lucy, the most well preserved Australopithecus ever found by archaeological teams, is one of our earliest human ancestors that died about 3.2 million years ago. She stood erect but was very small compared to the modern day human. She was about 3.5 feet tall and a mere 55 pounds. The fact that she stood erect though is what separated Australopithecus apart from other animals. With free hands and opposable thumbs, early ancestors were able to carry objects, make tools, and start shaping the way we are today.

The Australopithecus were displaced by a new species of hominids, which consisted of Homo erectus about one million years ago. They had a larger brain and made great advancements to the earlier tools. They added axes, cleavers, and fire, which helped with both hunting and food preparation. But, most importantly, they developed language skills, which enabled them to communicate and form hunting groups. Having a more reliable way of hunting allowed Homo erectus to venture and spread into unknown regions of the world.

Then, an even smarter and more advanced human species became prominent. These were, Homo sapiens. Like our brains today, Homo sapiens had well-developed frontal regions of the brain where critical thinking occurs. They could analyze the way their environment and the world functioned and would use it to their advantage to figure out the most ideal ways to come up with solutions to their problems. This intelligence also enabled Homo sapiens to venture further across the world. Colder regions were no longer uninhabitable because warm clothes were being made from animal skin and effective shelters were now being built. About fifteen thousand years ago almost every habitable region of the world had been settled with communities of Homo sapiens. Because of the advancement in tools and weapons, larger prey was easier to kill and some were even pushed into extinction.

These early societies of hunting and gathering people followed their food source and therefore had fewer items to make traveling easier. Men would primarily hunt the large animals on night expeditions and the women and children gathered small, but necessary, items such as plants, roots, nuts, and fruits. Since both jobs were just as important, some scholars believe there was a relative social equality in these times and this could be said for relations between the sexes. Movements were timed with the changing seasons and life cycles of plant species that were gathered.

Were food was abundant though, permanent settlements were established. It was found that in places were food was abundant, there were complex societies with specialized rulers and craftsmen. These Paleolithic peoples who lived in these societies also began to reflect on human existence. Though they lived in a very close proximity to Homo sapiens, Neanderthals were not as intelligent and imitated some of their technologies. Still, it does seem they were the first



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