Around 1.9 Million Years Ago

The ancestor of all modern humans came from Africa. You’ll have to read the book to follow the painstaking scientific method of deduction that Krause utilizes. But know this: human forebears moved from Africa to Central Europe just before the start of the great Ice Age. So their timing was not great. Nevertheless, here we are!

If we think of evolution as having a conscious purpose — which it does not — then this was a bold experiment. Fundamentally, walking on two legs requires more energy than walking on all fours like an ape. Running, however, does not: humans expend roughly the same energy running over the same distance as walking. Around 1.9 million years ago, taking this evolutionary step toward efficient running made a lot of sense. The African landscape changed dramatically. Areas of trees became savannahs, predominantly grassland. There were fewer trees to climb and therefore more reasons for humans to keep their heads above the grass — to spot predators coming, for example. Unlike other types of human that did not walk upright to the same extent (and later died out), Homo erectus was able to hold its own on the savannah.

A Short History of Humanity: A New History of Old Europe, by Johannes Krause and Thomas Trappe, Chapter 3 (“Immigrants are the Future”)

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