Evolution of man
Evolution is the slowly process of changing taking place in stages taking place in stages over a period of many years.
Evolution of man is the series of changes experienced by man, he has acquired the physiological characteristics that distinguish him from other primates such as baboons, monkeys and chimpazees. Early human being developed to become what we are today
Origin of Man
There are two main theories through which explain the origin of man namely the creation theory
and evolution theory
- Creation theory
The theory of Creation is found in the Christian and Muslim Holy books that is in Bible and Quran respectively.
These books stated that God created the universe and all other living creatures including man in six days. The creation of first man has been explained to both Bible and Quran named ‘Adam’ and his wife in the Bible she called ‘Eve’ and in the Quran she called Hawa
God blessed them and told them to reproduce and fill the Earth, He gave them the authority over the other creatures on earth.
Adam and Eve/Hawa were both sent to live in the Garden of Eden but when they sinned God threw them away out of the heaven and sent them to live on earth. Therefore, all humans are descendants of Adam and Eve/Hawa.
- Evolution theory
Evolution theory seek to explain the origin of man using the scientific approach. They state that man originated from simple life then slowly transformed over millions of years. Charles Darwin a British scientist in his book explain that animals and plants evolved from simple living cells to the complex animals of today as a results of environment adaptions.
According to Darwin’s human beings and primates have common ancestors and he come to the conclusion after his studies on different species of plants and animals and found that both plants and animal were capable of transformation and survival of plants and animals depends on their ability to apply changes to their environment.
STAGES THROUGH WHICH MAN ENVOLVED
Archaeological studies show that man evolved through various stages, the following are some of those stages of evolution of man from the earliest apes to Modern man (Homo sapiens) sapiens.
- Drypithecus Africanus (Woodland apes)
These apes lived in the woodlands of East Africa, Archaeological studies show that Drypithecus Africanus had long teeth. They survived by eating meat and wild fruits, they walked on four limbs (fore and hind). Drypithecus was found at Rusinga Island on Lake Victoria by Dr Louis Leakey and Mary Leakey in 1948. The woodlands apes inhabited the earth about 25million years ago.
- Ramapithecus (Kenyapithecus)
Dr Louis Leakey discovered more fossils of human like creatures at Fort Fernan in Kenya, these fossils found belonged to small animals and they were more manlike than the previous, Dr Leakey gave this creature the name Ramapithecus or Kenyapithecus.
The Ramapithecus had massive jaws and teeth which were used for grinding food.
- Australopithecus (Southern apes)
They were also known as the southern apes because the fossils remains were first found at the Southern Africa at along Kimberley in 1924 by an Archaeologist called Raymond Dart, other fossils remains found at various historical sites for example at the Olduvai Gorge, Lake Natron, Lake Victoria, and River Omo in Ethiopia.
The Australopithecus or near man was the first bipedal (walked upright by two legs) these creatures had the ability to make tools such sticks and others. Australopithecus lived approximated 2 to 4 million years ago.
These referred to the descendants of the Australopithecus, they are regarded as the closest ancestors of the modern man. These creatures are believed to have been hairy shorted strong with deep set eyes, their brain capacity was between 450 to 550 cc which is the third of the size of the brain of the modern man. Archaeological evidences show that the Zinjanthropus had weapon tools and sleeping places (shelter) and they were the first hominids to use simple tools such as stone tools. All remains of these tools and skills discovered by Dr Leakey in 1959 at Olduvai Gorge.
- Homo Habilies (Handy man)
Zinjanthropus evolved into Homo habilies, homo habilies means clever man with ability to do different things, and the skull of Homo habilis was discovered at Olduvai Gorge.
The brain capacity of Homo habilies was between 650 and 800 cc and he lived around 1.5 Million years ago.
- Homo Erectus (Upright man)
Homo erectus simply means upright man because he walked upright and resembled that of the modern man. The first fossils/ remains of Homo erectus were found along the shores of Lake Turkana. Homo habilies lived between 500,000 to 350,000 years ago, his brain capacity was between 900 and 1000 cc. Some tools and weapons from this age have been excavated at Olorgasaille near Nairobi and Isimila in Tanzania.
- Homo Sapiens
Homo sapiens means the most wise man/most intellectual man. He had brain capacity of between 1400 and 1450 cc.
Homo sapiens believed to be the first man to discover and use fire and pots. He was also the first man to capture and domesticating animals such as dogs for security and hunting cattle, goat, sheep, donkey and horses. He also grew crops, built houses and had more settled life.
This referred to the period in history when man started using technology. It is also called prehistory since human being was not able to write so there was no written records.
Major Advancements in this period includes the practicing of agriculture and domestication of certain animals and smelting of copper to produce metal.
The physical and cultural changes of man during the Stone Age are categorized into different phases namely;
Early Stone Age
Middle Stone Age
Late/New Stone Age
Early Stone Age
In East Africa the Early Stone Age started from 3 Million years BC to 750,000 BC. During this period man made simple tools from stones and these tools were rough and crude.
These simple tools have been referred as pebble tools, they were called pebble tools because they were made from pebbles which means from round stones
These pebble tools were obtained in Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania, a long Lake Turkana in Kenya and Omo River Valley in Ethiopia.
Characteristics of Early/ Old Stone Age
Middle Stone Age
- During this time man their economic activities were hunting and gathering.
- Man-made stone tools such as hand axes,
- Man lived in caves
- Man moved from one place to another place in search of food
- He had very low ability to control his environment
- Man ate uncooked food such as fruits, meat and vegetables
- Man depended on nature for livelihood
- There was no permanent settlement
This was the period between 200,000 BC and about 50000 BC
The main difference between the old stone age and middle stone age was the quality of tools, under this period man-made better and specialized tools from wood, stones and bones, these tools were smaller, sharper and easy to handle and these tools include spears, arrows, needles, stones, picks, and these tools were used in digging roots and other small activities.
Characteristics of Middle Stone Age
- Man improved stone tools which he made
- He started to use other materials such as bones and wood
- Tools made were much smaller, sharper and more handy
- Man developed religious beliefs.
- Under this time Man discovered fire
-Improvement of stone tools and discovery of fire increased man’s ability to control environment
Changes made by man after the invention of fire
- Man was able to warm himself during cold night
- Fire protected man from dangerous animals
- Flames of the fire gave man light at night
- Fire was used to hardening the tips of spear and fishing tools
- Through fire man was able to eat roasted food
All these helped man to control his environment better than before and evidence of the middle Stone Age tools are found in parts of East Africa Rift Valley, Woodland in Uganda and in the highland of the Tanzania and Kenya. It is believed that Homo erectus lived in this period.
Late/ New Stone Age (Neolithic Period)
This period was associated with Homo sapiens, it started from 50,000 BC up to the First Millenium AD. Tools which were made under this period were better and advanced, they started permanent settlement and started drawing and painting
Characteristics of Late/ New Stone Age
The Iron Age
- They started to live in permanent settlement
- Man started to practice agricultural and pastoralism activities
- There was the formation of government
- Fire widely used
- There was division of labor based on age and sex
- There was improvement of transport and communication system
Iron Age started during the First Millennium AD, It is the period when man started making and using iron tools such as iron spears, arrows, axes, hoes, knives, needles and hand axes. The discovery of Iron was invention occurred accidentally and it was new technology which changed the life and culture of man
In East Africa Early Iron sites were discovered at Engaruka in Rift Valley, Uvinza in Kigoma, Ugweno in Kilimanjaro both in Tanzania and Meroe and Axum in Sudan.
Effects of the Discovery of Iron
Dating Method in Archaeology Development of Economic Activities and Their Impact
- Help man to clear and occupy thick forest areas
- He was able to build better houses
- Iron tools were used for defense against wild animals
- Specialization in production began
- Man started to live in permanent settlement