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Last Updated: Wednesday,December 1, 1999
Just Before Humans: Pre-hominoids
According to Richard Leakey, paleo-anthropologist from a family of paleontologists, there is about 1,000 fossilized skeletons of humanoid creatures which have been dated before 1,000,000 years ago. And all of them are incomplete.
For a discussion of the problems of interpreting what the whole creature looked like see "Lucy and Her Cousins".
Most paleontologists agree that the most likely scenario for humans evolving from apes in Africa was because of geological change about 15 million years ago. Understanding the process of plate tectonics and biological evolution would help greatly.
Here are the significant events, and their approximate times:
|Years Ago||Major Events|
|15,000,000-12,000,000||East Africa dries out because of the raising of the land mass due to continental plate collision. This leads to adaptation of apes in the dryer and cooler regions toward walking upright on two legs (bipedalism).|
Several fossil remains are found that look like promising early hominoid species, but eventually all are classified as apes. "Rampithecus" was the last such controversy in the 1970's. To be classified as huminoid a fossil skeleton has to show the following criteria:
|7,999,999-4,000,000||Blood protein studies shows that somewhere in this time period some apes involved into hominids. There is a four million year gap in the fossil records here.|