Ardipithecus ramidus

Lived during the Late Miocene (11.6 mya to 5332 mya) and Early Pliocene (5332 mya to 3.6 mya).  Fossil remains have been found in Ethiopia.  It is now a matter of debate as to whether or not this hominid is an ancient human ancestor.  A. ramidus lived 4.4 mya and A. kadabba lived 5.6 mya.  Behavior was similar to chimps.  This hominid was only about 4 feet tall with an average weight around 100 lbs.  It’s believed this hominid was very ape-like in appearance.  It was fully covered with hair.


A. afarensis

It’s name means “southern ape.”  Evolved in East Africa around 4 mya and spread throughout the continent.  Believed to have become extinct about 2 mya.  This hominid had several species including A. robustus.  It’s body was gracile and it stood an average of 4.7 feet tall.  Some researchers believe this hominid was very similar to Bonobos in appearance and behavior.  It was fully covered with hair.  The famous “Lucy” was from this genus (A. Afarensis).


Homo habilis

Homo habilis3

Also known as “handyman” and “tool man.”  This species lived around 2.8 mya to 1.5 mya.  Made and used stone tools (Oldowan Tools).  This species was covered in hair and was very ape-like in appearance.  Since it was first found by Louis and Mary Leakey it has been a matter of debate because it is the least human-like (along with H. rudolfensis).



Homo erectus

H erectus_Mod Humans

Also known as “upright man” or “erect man.”  Lived from about 1.8 mya to around 70 kya.  It is found in Africa (H. ergaster) Georgia (Russia) India, Sri Lanka, China, and Indonesia.  Peking Man and Java Man are both from this species.  Some H. erectus stood over 6 feet tall but the average height was around 5 ft. 9 in.  Ironically, later H. erectus appears more primitive in morphology than earlier specimens.  The later had thicker skulls and very prominent browridges where the earlier did not.  It is as if they devolved! This species developed the Acheulean tools which were a step up from the Oldowant tools it originally made and used.  This species was the first to use fire and the first to cook its food, it is believed.  It was also the first species to leave Africa and spread into Eurasia and maybe beyond.  Although some recreations make this species like a gorilla it likely had less body hair than previous hominids.  It also had a sagittal ridge that was less prominent in earlier species.  It had a long rounded skull and low forehead.  This species was likely more man-like than perhaps we wish to believe.  They were tall with long legs and arms and had big feet.

Homo heidelbergensis

Heidelbergensis_3This species is believed to be the common ancestor of modern humans (H. sapiens) and the Neanderthals.  It lived in Europe, Africa, and Western Asia  between 600 kya and 200 kya.  Skulls of this species reveal that it had BOTH features from H. erectus and anatomically modern H. sapiens!  Neanderthals, modern humans, and Denisovans are believed to have descended from this species.  This species has a larger braincase than H. erectus/ergaster approaching 1250 cm.  It also made and used more developed stone tools and had more human-like behavior.  It terms of anatomy it was a bit more primitive than the Neanderthals but it likely looked similar to them.  Likely also that this species had language.

Homo neanderthalensis

Neanderthal Man_1Commonly known as Neanderthals this species was once painted as the stereotypical cave man, thuggish and dumb.  But this image has now changed as we have recognized this species had language, buried their dead, cooked their food, made art, and a host of other very human-like behaviors.  It was very human-like in appearance standing on average between 5.4-5.5 feet and weighing an average of 170 lbs.  Modern humans outside of Africa have about 4% Neanderthal DNA.  This species is NOT found in Africa but mainly in the Levant, Europe, and Western Asia.  There is evidence this species interbred with early modern humans (Cro-magons).  It was short but stocky in appearance with less body hair than previous hominids.  A Neanderthal could be dressed in modern clothes and go out into modern society and never be suspected of not being a modern human!  Evidence is that this species made and wore clothing (mostly animal hides).

Homo sapiens

Simply modern humans…you and I 🙂