The Humans That Lived Before Us

  • Published: 30 January 2019
  • As more and more fossil ancestors have been found, our genus has become more and more inclusive, incorporating more members that look less like us, Homo sapiens. By getting to know these other hominins--the ones who came before us--we can start to answer some big questions about what it essentially means to be human.

    Thanks as always to Nobu Tamura for allowing us to use his wonderful paleoart:

    Thanks to Julio Lacerda and Studio 252mya for the hominin illustrations. You can find more of Julio's work here:

    Produced in collaboration with PBS Digital Studios:

    Super special thanks to the following Patreon patrons for helping make Eons possible:

    Katie Fichtner, Anthony Callaghan, Renzo Caimi Ordenes, John Vanek, Neil H. Gray, Marilyn Wolmart, Esmeralda Rupp-Spangle, Gregory Donovan, Ehit Dinesh Agarwal, الخليفي سلطان , Gabriel Cortez, Marcus Lejon, Robert Arévalo, Robert Hill, Kelby Reid, Todd Dittman, Betsy Radley, PS, Colin Sylvester, Philip Slingerland, Jose Garcia, Eric Vonk, Tony Wamsley, Henrik Peteri, Jonathan Wright, Jon Monteiro, James Bording, Brad Nicholls, Miles Chaston, Michael McClellan, Jeff Graham, Maria Humphrey, Nathan Paskett, Connor Jensen, Daisuke Goto, Hubert Rady, Yuntao Zhou, Gregory Kintz, Tyson Cleary, Chandler Bass, Maly Lor, Joao Ascensao, Tsee Lee, Sarah Fritts, Ruben Winter, Ron Harvey Jr, Jacob Gerke, Alex Yan

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    Antón, S. C., Potts, R., & Aiello, L. C. (2014). Evolution of early Homo: an integrated biological perspective. Science, 345(6192), 1236828.
    Gibbons, A. (2015). Deep roots for the genus Homo.
    Haile-Selassie, Y., Latimer, B. M., Alene, M., Deino, A. L., Gibert, L., Melillo, S. M., ... & Lovejoy, C. O. (2010). An early Australopithecus afarensis postcranium from Woranso-Mille, Ethiopia. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107(27), 12121-12126.
    Leakey, L. S., Tobias, P. V., & Napier, J. R. (1964). A new species of the genus Homo from Olduvai Gorge.
    Schwartz, J. H., & Tattersall, I. (2015). Defining the genus Homo. Science, 349(6251), 931-932.
    Susman, R. L. (1994). Fossil evidence for early hominid tool use. Science, 265(5178), 1570-1573.
    Villmoare, B., Kimbel, W. H., Seyoum, C., Campisano, C. J., DiMaggio, E. N., Rowan, J., ... & Reed, K. E. (2015). Early Homo at 2.8 Ma from Ledi-Geraru, Afar, Ethiopia. Science, 347(6228), 1352-1355.
    Wood, B. (1992). Origin and evolution of the genus Homo. Nature, 355(6363), 783.
    Wood, B. (1999). 'Homo rudolfensis' Alexeev, 1986-fact or phantom?. Journal of human evolution, 36(1), 115.
    Wood, B. (2014). Human evolution: Fifty years after Homo habilis. Nature News, 508(7494), 31.
    Wood, B., & Collard, M. (1999). The human genus. Science, 284(5411), 65-71.
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Comments • 1 995

  • Daniel Santos
    Daniel Santos  11 hours back

    Why are all these artistic depictions in Iceland?

    • Campbell Inch
      Campbell Inch  1 days back

      5:44 we must be from that country because the right side is a face😂

      • Bodfishblues
        Bodfishblues  2 days back

        What about Bigfoot?

        • Richard Koenigsberg
          Richard Koenigsberg  2 days back

          Well done!!

          • Jeffrey Lam
            Jeffrey Lam  2 days back

            The human that lived before me is my parents.

            • L E
              L E  2 days back

              I'm not convinced smh

              • Mr. Leavell
                Mr. Leavell  3 days back

                That ain't us.

                • Jacob Serrano
                  Jacob Serrano  2 days back

                  Mr. Leavell , it depends on how you define “us”. If a modern human can successfully mate with homo erectus, then it becomes a “prehistoric-human-that-can-be-mated with”. If not, then a “proto-human”.

              • maximiliano hernán morales johnson

                BIG BRAAAAAIN!

                • Manuelito Foronda
                  Manuelito Foronda  3 days back

                  Why the Philippines has so many people still look like Homo habilis

                  • Rex Gaming_501st
                    Rex Gaming_501st  4 days back

                    Is it a coincidence that I got a curiosity stream ad about the first man while watching?

                    • XMattingly
                      XMattingly  5 days back

                      6:22 Homo Howard Hughes

                      • save the turtles
                        save the turtles  5 days back

                        The people who lived before us need a shower they crusty

                        • J. Jonah Jameson
                          J. Jonah Jameson  6 days back

                          She says "We were" because she knows humans are the only one species smart enough to watch this among the thousand other animals.

                          What a Brain....

                          • Mohammad Pangcatan
                            Mohammad Pangcatan  6 days back

                            So, why monkeys right now are still monkeys? Why he not evolved like us?

                            • Your Alternate Reality
                              Your Alternate Reality  6 days back

                              Humans beings did not evolve from modern day monkey monkeys both evolved from an extinct common ancestor (similar to monkey).

                          • Imaginose314159
                            Imaginose314159  7 days back

                            Its the pluto syndrome, theres close and theres human, just draw the line at bipedal and use tools and leave it at that. Then make different classes of "How much alike by percentage" for instance. How much of this is politics? I wonder.

                            • iik7lx K
                              iik7lx K  7 days back

                              If we evolved from apes then how did we lose the 2 chromosomes

                              • Glen Carbon
                                Glen Carbon  3 days back

                                @iik7lx K
                                You should really look into what you're talking about first. Because most of what you just said was wrong.
                                First if all there are plenty of beneficial mutations found in humans. Mutations don't happen by just losing/gaining a chromosome so mutations don't lead to down syndrome.
                                Also, many women and some men with down syndrome can reproduce. So you really need to look into what you're saying first.

                              • iik7lx K
                                iik7lx K  3 days back

                                When a child is born with more chromosomes he automatically loses the ability to reproduce because of Down syndrome so if any genetic mutations happened to the apes then they would have not been able to reproduce

                              • rent a shill
                                rent a shill  3 days back

                                genetic mutation, that chromosome pair fused into one in humans
                                actually yea genetic mutations happen randomly on their own... most easiest evidence for that is comparing children to their parents
                                there are similarites ofcourse, but are children perfect 100% copy of their parents?

                              • Glen Carbon
                                Glen Carbon  3 days back

                                @iik7lx K
                                Yes.... They actually do

                              • iik7lx K
                                iik7lx K  6 days back

                                Your Alternate Reality
                                Genetic mutations don’t just occur randomly on their own

                            • Mystic Souls
                              Mystic Souls  1 weeks back

                              You mean SASQUATCH

                              • Vinay Ramesh Jogi
                                Vinay Ramesh Jogi  1 weeks back

                                Jai hanuman❤️

                                • Chris OLeary
                                  Chris OLeary  1 weeks back

                                  The lady keeps referring to these species as "human ancestors....when there is absolutely NO genetic evidence for such a statement. Neanderthals were NOT our direct ancestors, neither were Homo erectus.

                                  • Gary Chynne
                                    Gary Chynne  1 weeks back

                                    fleas were a bigger problem than standing up.

                                    • edits
                                      edits  1 weeks back

                                      Dawn horses

                                      • Big D
                                        Big D  2 weeks back

                                        So what you are saying is that if I screw an ape it could lead to a whole new human species?🤣🤣🤣

                                        • Francis Vachon
                                          Francis Vachon  2 weeks back

                                          " And the capability for language can really only be inferred from the fossil record. "

                                          Maybe not.

                                          Dr. Svantee Paabo's research on foxp2 (gene strongly associated with speech) show that DNA samples may contain readable DNA from ~500 000 yo sample (I think, from memory). Perhaps some even older dna may be similarly analyzed. I'm not sure what the limits of this would be - e.g. maximum time before too high a fraction of dna has decayed enough to be impossible to recover...

                                          • woslo w
                                            woslo w  2 weeks back

                                            They really got their money's worth out of that sound clip of hitting two rocks together.

                                            • DogFam Boss
                                              DogFam Boss  2 weeks back

                                              There’s no we just an us 🙃 y’all aren’t like us🗣

                                              • The Spectosphere
                                                The Spectosphere  2 weeks back

                                                They always show them naked but I wonder

                                                • jaymz1999
                                                  jaymz1999  2 weeks back

                                                  The Spectosphere Homo Habilis lived around 2.000.000 years ago. First sign of clothes about 200.000 years ago. We were naked a long long time.

                                              • Saltyman
                                                Saltyman  2 weeks back

                                                Our ancestors look like Oblivion characters

                                                • crazycatlady39
                                                  crazycatlady39  2 weeks back

                                                  So we have more 'cousins' then 'siblings' in our family tree.

                                                  • Red Penguin
                                                    Red Penguin  2 weeks back

                                                    One thing I was wondering is if the migration Out of Africa happened that long ago could it be possible that there were other species that migrated into Africa around that same time? We just haven't found anything yet or they're just hiding it from us

                                                    • Red Penguin
                                                      Red Penguin  2 weeks back

                                                      I'm talking about the migration that happened before the last one. For example the oldest bones found so far is Lucy found in Ethiopia now what if there are bones found about the same age or older but not in Africa? or what if their were other spices about that time that migrated into Africa from somewhere else? Scientists say Neanderthals came out of Africa with denisovans like 2 million years ago. I don't believe it I bet the earliest bones found so far would be cause there 130,000 to 40,000 years old there are older ones I bet still not found yet that might not have Africa dna.

                                                    • John DC
                                                      John DC  2 weeks back

                                                      There might have been migrations of Neanderthals from Arabia and Iberia

                                                  • Santhosh Kb
                                                    Santhosh Kb  2 weeks back

                                                    this learn very falls because all humens are first appear india like the period of krithayuga

                                                    • dovey thrill
                                                      dovey thrill  3 weeks back

                                                      Some people say Africa was the first but some say india. Everyone thinks there own kind is number 1.

                                                      • jaymz1999
                                                        jaymz1999  2 weeks back

                                                        full comedy A lot of people thinks. Evidence does not.

                                                      • Aubrey Pressley
                                                        Aubrey Pressley  2 weeks back

                                                        As far as I can tell the theory is entirely just Africa up until climate change caused dispersal through the ME and into Asia.

                                                    • Eliel Lazo
                                                      Eliel Lazo  3 weeks back

                                                      We modern humans are the most stupid of all. Destroying everything. Making wars, Hiding cures from each other, putting money in front of hour existensy on earth. WE ARE A DISASTER.

                                                      May be it was not necessary to know that much.

                                                      • Lucien
                                                        Lucien  2 weeks back

                                                        That is just stupid cyniscm. A lot of humans are against "destroying everything", as should be obvious to anybody that thinks about it for more than a second. Wars are often devastating, but most wars are not as bad as they were say multiple decades ago.

                                                    • Ch Viswa Prakasha Rao
                                                      Ch Viswa Prakasha Rao  3 weeks back

                                                      I wonder whether the narration should be a little slower to allow it to sink into the viewer's mind. It is not news. It is science.

                                                      • Bachelor Gamer
                                                        Bachelor Gamer  3 weeks back

                                                        Why called lucy when its African

                                                        • Lucien
                                                          Lucien  2 weeks back

                                                          The people who discovered it were listening to a song by the Beatles called "Lucy In the Sky with Diamonds", hence why it is called lucy. Also, Lucy is sometimes called "Dinknesh" in ethiopia, the country where she was discovered. It roughly translates to "you are wonderful".

                                                      • CZandra Vlogs
                                                        CZandra Vlogs  3 weeks back

                                                        Very helpful. Thanks

                                                        • Gustavo Lira
                                                          Gustavo Lira  3 weeks back

                                                          Our ancestors from Africa. I love it. We are all related: “100th” cousins away. No wonder Creationists don’t accept Evolution or that we are all one race—not White, not Black or everything in between.

                                                          • Amateur0Visionary
                                                            Amateur0Visionary  2 days back

                                                            You seem to be asserting that all creationists are racist. That's a rather ignorant assumption. They are indeed ignorant, by definition. But the desire to believe a literal interpretation of a book does not automatically make one racist.

                                                        • Fazhluddin shaik
                                                          Fazhluddin shaik  3 weeks back

                                                          I came here to find some answers, but ended up having more questions.. Well, now I am outta here...

                                                          • Mike Harrington
                                                            Mike Harrington  3 weeks back

                                                            More questions than answers indicates that anthropology is far from being an accurate scientific study into the reconstruction of human evolution

                                                            • Venture Vanessa
                                                              Venture Vanessa  4 weeks back

                                                              I’m def a homo

                                                              • Gravel Pit
                                                                Gravel Pit  4 weeks back

                                                                some sort of fishfrog humped another fishfrog and out popped an apeFrog, and then the apeFrog had a human.

                                                                • adub3000
                                                                  adub3000  4 weeks back

                                                                  Missing link maybe???

                                                                • Manuel Popp
                                                                  Manuel Popp  4 weeks back

                                                                  Why would you consider the use of tools a characteristic trait of humans? In many species, animals use tools when they where taught to while animals of the same species don't use tools if they have never seen any specimen of their species do so. It's cultural. What if there were some groups of humans who used tools and some who didn't, living next to each other. Obviousely, the use of tools would spread because it is quite an advantage, but e.g. if the individuals who know how to make tools die without passing their knowledge to the rest of the group, the others would need some time, maybe generations, to figure out by themselfes or again meet groups who have the knowledge and want to share it. However, they'd still be human all the time...

                                                                  • Tabe de Vries
                                                                    Tabe de Vries  4 weeks back

                                                                    I couldn’t handle how many times the same damn pictures were cycled. What kind of low budget crap is this....

                                                                    • Anthony Rendon
                                                                      Anthony Rendon  4 weeks back

                                                                      I no longer want to identify as a “Homo”. I’m starting to feel like a different species.

                                                                      • Luis Ferreira
                                                                        Luis Ferreira  4 weeks back

                                                                        The more i study the more i realize that all we do is categorizing things, then sub-categorizing some of them, then sub-sub categorizing the ones that we just sub categorized and then call it a Degree. We becoming kinda boring.

                                                                        • Lucien
                                                                          Lucien  2 weeks back

                                                                          Is this supposed to sound deep or something? Sounds about right to me.

                                                                      • Luis Ferreira
                                                                        Luis Ferreira  4 weeks back

                                                                        why doesss she ssspeak like thisss?

                                                                        • Allen Bonus
                                                                          Allen Bonus  4 weeks back

                                                                          If given mastery time and space i would watch it all from the beginning. Like a kdrama series and i will tell you all about it when i see you again..

                                                                          • Nate
                                                                            Nate  4 weeks back

                                                                            Though we all seem to feel this need to categorize everythings (myself included), it's not a bad idea to remind ourselves every once in a while that even if you could look at one specific bloodline over millions of years with all the evidence scientists don't even dare dream about (fossils, tools, remants of meals or fireplaces but even impossible evidence like pictures and films and DNA samples for every single member of that bloodline) you would still be left without any idea where to put the cut-off limit between species.

                                                                            It's like looking around you every second and defining which second marks the begining of morning, which second is the first of the afternoon or night, which is the evening, which is twilight, dusk or dawn....There is no exact second when the day turns into night or vice-versa. Of course by convention we have defined a time with clocks and decided that midnight marks the change from one day to the next and that noon separates the mornng from the afternoon but it's all a human categorization. The change happens gradually.