Fossils which show the first departure from animals to humans are labelled Australopithecus africanus or ‘african southern ape.’ These creatures lived in South Africa 3.6 million years ago. I propose a renaming of these creatures that reflects the humanity of these, the first progenitors of the human lineage, I propose to rename them Homo primocreatus – primordial man or even first-created man.
Choice is at the root of what it is to be human. We can choose well, and we can choose badly. One type of early human appears to have chosen badly.
There was a robust type of Australopithecus in South Africa and a similar type labelled Paranthropus in East Africa who lived between 3.6 and 1.4 million years ago. This type had huge teeth and a sagittal crest on the head to hold chewing muscles due to the option for a diet of very rough food material.
The other type of early human seems to have opted for lighter food items and maybe a more technical approach. The more gracile type evolved into Homo habilis, the tool user 2 million years ago.
The most complete skeleton of Homo primocreatus was named ‘Lucy’ or AL 288. She stood just over a metre high or 3 ½ feet. The average brain size of Homo primocreatus was 450 cc. This was a bit bigger than the chimpanzee average of 385 cc.
The jaws were large to accomodate teeth that were human, but large by modern standards because adapted to coping with a raw food diet. The feet and hands were fully human.
The wide flaring pelvis had muscle attachments for climbing muscles. Homo primocreatus climbed trees with great ease, while also walking upright on the ground. This form of pelvis is the opposite condition to the ape pelvis which is long rather than wide.
The wide pelvis probably denotes a bit of a pot belly. The legs and arms were long and muscular. The skin may have been of intermediate tone since these small, early humans lived in dense forest away from direct sunlight.
Fire appeared in Africa 3 million years ago – whether natural or contrived it converted land that had been thick jungle into open savannahs with grazing herd animals.
Homo habilis was the first to start to inhabit savannah lands. Stress analysis of his bones show that he spent less time in trees, and more time walking or running. His stature increased slightly and brain size was 750 cc.
Louis and Mary Leakey excavating in Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania in the 1950s found evidence that Homo habilis had driven animals into an ancient bog they called the ‘slaughter house’ to trap them, and then butchered them using stone tools.
The first stone industry is called the Oldowan Stone Industry. Stone knappers use the language part of the brain when making stone tools. Thus, the presence of stone tools denotes the use of language by Homo habilis.
The next type of human to evolve was Homo erectus. Homo erectus got this name from walking upright, although, all humans had walked upright from day one. I propose to rename this type Homo ignis – Fire-maker Man.
This new type found in East Africa 1.8 million years ago had long legs, taller stature and a very narrow body. The robustness of the bones showed that he was the super-athlete. He would have been capable of running a herd animal down in what is known as the persistence hunt. This is when a hunter runs an animal down before killing it with a spear.
Homo erectus in Africa is also called Homo ergaster, but I am naming both of them Homo ignis. The most complete skeleton of Homo ignis is of the ‘Turkana boy’, a juvenile individual. Adult individuals had skulls with highly developed brow ridges and a cranial capacity of 750 to 1050 cc.
Homo ignis migrated from Africa to Indonesia in Asia 2 million years ago. Brain size in the Indonesian population was of 915 to 1000 cc.
Homo ignis appears to have had little trouble crossing seas to migrate to various islands and to follow the coastline of continents. I think he would have used rafts to cross rivers or short stretches of sea between mainland and islands.
Homo ignis was a terrestrial hunter-gatherer who lived only in tropical regions of the world. However, the territory needed to support hunter-gatherers must have been limited and start to run out since the evolution of large brow ridges indicates that there was constant tribal warfare using clubs to batter the opponent over the head. This meant that only the thick-skulled with pneumatic brow ridges survived. When land was not sufficient the other solution was to migrate.
Homo ignis nomads made it as far as Europe 1.2 million years ago. The first human site in Europe is Atapuerca in Spain 1.2 million years, but Homo ignis even got to England at Happisburgh in Norfolk a million years ago and left Oldowan stone tools behind after some flint knapping. Other Mediterranean sites such as in Italy are dated to 900 000 and 800 000 years.
Spanish anthropologists named European Homo erectus ‘Homo antecesor.’ This population would be the first to start to evolve adaptations to surviving cool conditions in Mediterranean seasonal variations in temperature, both physically and culturally.
These were the first forms of mankind – Australopithecus, Homo habilis, Homo ergaster and Homo erectus or Homo primocreatus and Homo ignis. They lived in Africa and migrated to Asia. These early types were adapted to tropical climates in the world. Finally, a few made it to the Mediterranean to make a start on adaptation to a temperate climate maybe moving north in the summer and retreating south in the winter so as not to experience frost.