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LET'S EXPLORE Prehistoric life

When did humans first appear?

A group of ape-like humans gathering fruitA group of ape-like humans gathering fruitThe first human-like creatures lived in Africa, probably more than five million years ago. They were descended from prehistoric apes. Unlike apes, they learned to walked upright on two legs. Later kinds of human evolved and spread to all parts of the world. Modern humans, called Homo sapiens, evolved about 300,000 years ago.


Early humans using tools to carve up a carcassEarly humans using tools to carve up a carcassEarly humans lived together in small groups. They were still ape-like in appearance. By about 2.5 million years ago, these humans had learned to make simple stone tools. They used them to kill and skin animals for food. The first tools used by humans were stone blades. They were made by striking one stone against another to make a sharp edge.

Homo erectus lived until at least about 300,000 years ago. Some Homo erectus populations may have survived in Indonesia until about 143,000 years ago—or even more recently than that.

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