Humans Take the Stage
Early Hominids – 3,500,000 BC > 200,000 BC
Where in the world did we humans come from? Where in the world? Well, it depends on whom in the world you ask. The Aztecs think we popped out of corn. The Egyptians think we sprung from tears. The Mongols tell a story of how a wandering lama sculpted us out of clay. Hindus tell a story about how Lord Brahma split himself in half to make a man and a woman. The Chinese believe a dog-headed man married a princess and they settled in northern China and had a lovely little family of four that went on to populate the world. And about four billion people grow up hearing about how a naked vegetarian couple frolicked carelessly around a garden until one day the bored wife decided to nibble into a naughty apple. Every civilization has a story. Every civilization has concocted some sort of explanation for where we came from, most surviving the test of time, making their way across the eras, passed down first by word of mouth and then finally written down in some holy text.
Even scientists have thrown in their two cents. They dig up artifacts and leftover animal debris, run them through carbon dating machines and come up with some estimates of how long this earth has been spinning. What did they discover? The earth is old. Really old. Freakishly old. Just how old?
No one can say for sure. The estimate keeps changing. 150 years ago, physicist William Thomson said it could be 20 million years old, or…he said it might be 400 million years old. Not really an exact calculation. In recent years we’ve narrowed down the number a bit. After studying meteorites, the moon and other chunks of dirt floating around the solar system, geologists now say the number is more like 4.54 billion years – that’s 4,540,000,000 years for those of you who like your numbers written with commas.
This number is hard to fathom, so geologists came up with a little clock analogy to help people visualize the age of earth’s creation and the key turning points in its development. If this 4.54 billion year life span was turned into a metaphoric 24-hour clock, one second into the day, the earth appeared. Four hours later, we got the first rocks. At seven hours, the first single-celled organisms popped up. Animals finally made their appearance at the 18-hour mark, and humans (after over four and a half billion years) show up at 23 hours and 59 minutes. Yep, we’re about a minute old.
The first humanesque animal appeared around four million years ago. Anthropologists tell us hominids...