The Early Hominids

Nobody has found the missing link between modern humans and our animal ancestors yet.

Paleontologists have discovered some fossils which belong to a group of creatures that we call hominids.

Hominids looked like apes and had small brains. We know they walked on two legs and used stone tools.

Scientists believe that our ancestors looked like them. The earliest hominids, we know of, lived in Africa.

That was between 4 million and 800 000 years ago.

They are called australopithecines which means “southern apes”.

Australopithecines walked upright like us but had much smaller brains and were shorter than modern humans.

Early hominids spent most of their time on the ground looking for food. They ate mainly plants and little meat. Scientists learned that fact by studying their teeth.

Austrolopithecines had flat faces and climbed trees to hide from predators such as the sabre-toothed cat.

Archaelogists found some choppers and hammers made from pebbles which austrolopithecines knew how to make and use. 

In 1964, paleontologist Louis Leaky discovered some fossils of an unknown then hominid. It was 1,7 million years old. 

The fossils belonged to a 27 kg. female with a larger brain. Scientists named her “Lucy” and put her in another category of human-like creatures called Homo habilis. Homo habilis means “handy man”.

“Handy man” lived in nowadays Kenya and Tanzania and was able to hold objects firmly. Homo habilis used tools and probably ate more meat compared to the early australopithecines. 

Olduval Gorge, on the Serengeti plains, is where archaelogists found most of the hominid fossils we know about.

ancestors – an early type of plant or animal from which others have evolved

paleolontologists – scientists who study the forms of life existing in former geologic periods

fossils – any remains of a living thing of a former geologic age

hominids – any primate of the family Hominidae, which includes modern man


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