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Matt Crenson, Reconstructions

Tools tell a more complicated tale of the origin of the human genus

3:11pm, November 21, 2011

SN Prime | September 5, 2011 | Vol. 1, No. 12

The first animals that could arguably be called “human” made the evolutionary scene a little less than 2 million years ago.

These aren’t folks you’d mistake for modern-day Homo sapiens, or even the GEICO caveman. But they were clearly distinct from their more apelike predecessors. They had bigger brains, for one thing, and walked fully uprightpresumably an adaptation to life out in the open rather than up in the trees. They hunted at least some of their food, tamed fire and may have spoken some form of language.

Paleoanthropologists have long been convinced that this revolutionary species, Homo erectus, was born on the African savanna almost 2

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