Evolution of Man – The Best Thing Until Sliced Bread

How, why and when humans started evolving on earth is a topic of great debate and discussion around the world, and has been for centuries, as evidence of early man can often be limited and even contradictory in what it suggests. However, if man developed through literally millions of years of evolution, then fast-forward hundreds of thousands of years to when early-man started to realise the skills he would need to gain in order to survive. It is this extended period of self-realisation that many have called the true evolution of man, as, without it, humans probably would not have last for long.

All evidence of early man points to the fact that humans used to live in a far warmer climate than we are largely living in today. If all human kind did indeed originate in what is now Africa and disperse around the globe from there, the need for mankind to develop some key survival skills is understandable. The first of these would undoubtedly have been fire. The concept and danger of fire would have been known to man since the very earliest of times, when random lightening strikes would have shown its destructive nature without giving man the chance to harness its energy just yet. In many ancient European caves though, not only were charcoal drawings found on the walls, but charred animal bones were discovered; showing that fire has been in use for hundreds of centuries. How man came to use fire will always be unknown, but you can imagine that perhaps an old, dry tree was struck during a lightning storm, creating a large, warm fire. From this man probably started their own smaller fires which they would have had to have kept burning for a long time if they wished to stay warm. Likewise, the discovery of striking flint to make sparks would have been a fortunate accident too; cave men probably noticed sparks when they were walking in the dark, as certain stones struck each other.

With fire would have come many benefits, from warmth to a larger and more nourishing diet, and even protection from wild animals. Man would have taken all of these benefits and developed them further, making the most of his new found knowledge. As the climate started to cool, or as man travelled further north or south from the equator, man would have at some point started to wear clothing to stay warm when fire wasn’t readily available. How on earth could anyone accurately say when this was? Well one method that has been researched extensively is to simply carry out a genetic analysis of the common human body louse, as the louse largely lives in clothing, as the human body is so sparse of hair. This louse apparently dates back 540,000 years, so this is one theory of when mens clothing began.

Finally, man would have invented, or rather discovered, the wheel. From artefacts discovered, it is believed that the wheel was first discovered or widely used in Mesopotamia – what is now Iraq – up to 4000 BC. At some stage, man, after just dragging and carrying heavy supplies around, would likely have realised that rolling rocks along tubular tree branches was far easier, and from there developed the wheel.