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Australopithecus

Fact: Early humans date back up to 7 million years

Australopithecus

It’s difficult to define the point when our ancestors became ‘human’, but one important milestone occurred when the human lineage diverged from that of our closest living relatives: chimpanzees. The last ancestor we shared with chimps lived about 7 million years ago – a relatively short time ago in the 2 billion odd years since life first appeared on Earth. Since then there have been 15-20 different species of early hominid. Another key chapter in human evolution was the beginnings of bipedalism – the ability to walk on two feet. Australopithecus was the first genus to accomplish this feat around 4 million years ago in eastern Africa. It wasn’t until 2.4 million years ago that the Homo genus appeared. Their distinguishing feature was a bigger brain and they were the first of our ancestors to use stone tools. Homo sapiens are only about 200,000 years old, emerging in Africa before migrating across the globe.