1 – 2 million years ago

The Neanderthals

Neanderthal

About 22 hours ago in our timeline (about 200 000 years ago in real time), the first Neanderthal emerged. Neanderthals are often included within our species, but some scientists have suggested that this is wrong and that the Neanderthals were a separate species (Homo neanderthalensis).

Neanderthal people looked similar to us, but had a weaker jaw, a more prominent forehead with ridges over the eyes and shorter legs. Although their brain was bigger than ours, it was not so complex. They made tools and weapons, and perhaps had religious beliefs — we know that they buried their dead.

Neanderthals are known to have lived throughout much of Europe, Africa and parts of Asia. They appeared in Europe about 120 000 years ago and some scientists think that Neanderthals evolved to live in the cold ice ages and became extinct when the climate warmed up. Neanderthal people disappeared nearly three hours ago in Earth's life (in real time about 28 000 years ago) to be replaced by modern humans. If they are a primitive form of modern humans, then they may have disappeared by being absorbed into later populations.

For a short period, Neanderthals and Cro-Magnon people lived at the same time. If the two are of the same species, they may have been able to interbreed. Bones of a 25 000 year old human child from Portugal have Neanderthal-like features and 30 000 year old human bones show similarities with Neanderthals. However, this is controversial. Many scientists do not agree.


The first people1 – 2 million years ago

The first people.

HomoHomo

The first species that can be called human, Homo habilis, evolved in Africa

AustralopithecusAustralopithecus

Australopithecus was a hominid (a group of primates) but not a human being.

The Earth is now 46 years oldBack to 100-0 million years ago

The Earth is now 46 years old.