The evolution of human ancestors

  • José M. Musacchio
Part of the Springer Praxis Books book series (PRAXIS)


Fossil remains provide an incomplete, but objective glimpse into the evolution of our ancestors, which clearly indicate that Homo evolved from African hominids, but not from modern apes. For example, the most recent common ancestor of chimpanzees and hominids would have lived between 6 and 7 million years ago. However, human evolution is much more complex than previously suspected, because many hominid groups in fact evolved, but many also perished in the fierce competition for survival. This competition was won by Homo sapiens, perhaps as a consequence of his greater intelligence. Homo erectus, an ancestor of modern humans, left Africa about 1.8 million years ago. It was a bipedal hominid that walked upright and had a much smaller brain than our more recent ancestors. Early humans left a magnificent legacy of tombs that show their veneration of the dead. Because of their rudimentary knowledge, they relied mainly on supernatural (magical and spiritual) beliefs for explaining natural phenomena and for coping with their fears, diseases, and natural disasters. Thus, their supernatural and spiritual beliefs were partially incorporated into their religious beliefs and practices.


Frontal Lobe Modern Human Early Human Early Hominid Genus Homo 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • José M. Musacchio
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PharmacologyNew York University Langone Medical CenterNew YorkUSA

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