Discoveries in Africa and Beyond

Discoveries in Africa and Beyond
• 1950’s: Anthropologists knew little about early
humans and their ancestors.
• Prehistory groups (groups that existed before written language) did not
have cities, countries, governments, or complex inventions, so it was
difficult to find information about them.
• 1930’s: Anthropologists Mary and Louis Leakey went to
Tanzania to search the Olduvai Gorge.
The Leakeys found ancient tools chipped from stone. This showed that whoever had
made them had learned to develop technologies to help them survive.
1959: Mary Leakey finds the skull of an early hominid.
Humans are the only hominids that live today.
1974 – Ethiopia: Donald Johanson discovered enough remains to
piece together a whole skeleton which he named “Lucy”. They
estimate “Lucy” to be at least 3 million years old.
“Lucy” was about 4 feet tall
Evidence of Early Hominid Groups
Scientists and anthropologists have established that a number of different groups of
hominids lived over the course of several million years.
They call the earliest group of hominids australopithecines (ex. “Lucy”)
2 million years ago, a group of hominids known as homo habilis
By studying stone tools, anthropologists have concluded that Homo habilis
used their tools for purposes such as cutting, scraping, chopping or sawing
plants, animals, and wood.
Homo erectus also appeared 2 million years ago. They were
given the name “upright man” because their skeletons showed
they were upright walkers.
Homo erectus:
1. larger brains and bones
2. smaller teeth
3. greater range of capabilities
4. thought to be first hominids to learn how to
use fire
Homo erectus remains have
been found in Asia and Europe,
so scholars believe they were
the first hominids to migrate out
of Africa.
Scientists believe that around 250,000 B.C.E. to 100,000
B.C.E., Homo erectus disappeared…
1 C.E.
At this time, Homo sapiens appear. (that’s us!)
Out of Africa Theory:
Homo sapiens first lived
in Africa then migrated.
Others believe that
Homo erectus
developed into Homo
Two groups of Homo sapiens:
• A group known as Neanderthals
• Earliest modern humans
Between 50,000 B.C.E. and 30,000 B.C.E,
Neanderthals disappear…
1 C.E.
Donald Johanson was with another researcher, Tom Gray, when he began finding pieces
of Lucy’s skeleton.
Lifeline Question: How would you describe Johanson’s reaction to their discovery?
Primary Source:
“[Gray] picked it up. It was the back of a small skull. A few
feet away was part of a femur; a thighbone… We stood up,
and began to see other bits of bone on the slope; a couple
of vertebrae, part of a pelvis – all of them hominid. An
unbelievable, impermissible thought flickered through my
mind. Suppose all these fitted together? Could they be
parts of a single, extremely primitive skeleton? No such
skeleton had ever been found – anywhere.
‘Look at that,’ said Gray. ‘Ribs’
A single individual?
‘I can’t believe it,’ I said. ‘I just can’t believe it.’
- Donald Johanson
Bubble Organizer:
homo habilis
Homo erectus
Earliest known
Think – Pair – Share:
There will be a question given. I want you to:
1. Think about the question individually
2. Turn to a partner and share your thoughts
3. Then share with the class
What is the best dessert you have ever had?
Continue… Think – Pair – Share
What did Johanson speculate about the
relationship of the bones he found?
What types of obstacles do historians have to
overcome to give a straightforward account of events?
How might they do this?

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