Note: This is loosely real research, liberally interpreted and combined with magic, so don't take it too seriously. For now I use real species names, ignoring a lot of the active debate about nomenclature, choosing what is convenient. This article is not yet complete, pending the formal map of the world. The evolution of humanoids from their primate ancestors is difficult to piece together completely, due to the incredible scale of time to cover, and the scarce evidence available. In general terms, the varieties of modern humanoids share much of the same timeline, before splitting off in comparatively recent history. For the purposes of this article, we will refer to all members of the modern Homo genus as "human" for ease of comparison.
Before HomoPrimate-like species emerged around 65 million years ago (Ma), living primarily in tropical forests, diversifying and thriving arboreally during the Early and Middle Miocene periods. Around 4-8 Ma, gorillas and chimpanzees each split away from the line leading to humans. During this period, the habitats away from the equator became drier, which required many species to adapt to more arid conditions. The genus Australopithecus evolved around 4 Ma, spread widely, and went extinct only 2 million years later. There were between 4-6 species. Generally, they were also bipedal, with small brains (similar to apes), smaller canine teeth, but larger cheek teeth than modern humans, set in massive jaws. It is unknown whether any of these species directly led to the evolution of Homo. but some may be a candidate. The main point for the casual student is that the lifestyle of the 'walking apes' was quite diverse throughout this period, and the line of species leading to Homo sapiens were one of many potential branches of humanoid life before most of them became extinct. Many of these species ranged between the forest and more savannah-like areas, some were better at climbing, and some may have even developed the earliest of stone tools--it is hotly debated whether this behavior arose solely from Homo members (some have even suggested that many of these common 'human' behaviors could have arisen before the split with gorillas and chimpanzees).
After HomoHomo habilis evolved around 2.8 Ma, definitely used stone tools, and relied on trees less. They had more delicate hand structure, which helped with developing tools--chipping apart rocks to create a sharp edge for breaking open bones to eat marrow, and removing flesh from bones. Their brains were similar in size to a modern chimpanzee, followed by a rapid increase for H. erectus, who developed more complex tools. There are many branches as Homo spread between 1.3-1.8 Ma to cover all of the available continents connected by land. Homo sapiens finally appeared about 400-250,000 years ago, likely from H. erectus. They were behaviorally modern by 50,000 years ago, with modern language (as opposed to earlier limited sounds and gestures), beginnings of culture and sophisticated stone tools. Their notable evolutionary cousin, Homo neanderthalensis emerged in the same period, and had a larger population between 75-45,000 years ago. They were better adapted to colder climates, with a stouter body to retain heat. They also had better vision, and a larger brain size (though this does not directly correlate to the types of intelligence valued today). There is limited evidence suggesting that there may have been interbreeding between H. sapiens and Neanderthals early on.
Early Technology and CultureStone tools are found from around 2.6 Ma, beginning with "core tools", created by a simple strike of rock against rock to make a chopping tool. This is considered the beginning of the Stone Age. Around 700-300,000 years ago, H. erectus created heavy stone hand axes from flint and quartzite, which gradually appeared with more sophistication in technique, with additional, smaller strikes refining the initial edge. Technology developed rather slowly for a while, as the different species in line from H. habilis to H. erectus to H. neanderthalensis had more advanced techniques than the previous, but progressed more slowly within their own species. This has caused some debate about whether these earlier Homo species had complex language, symbolic thinking, or comparative levels of creativity, since once developed they were rather conservative in technology and foraging patterns. The transition to behavioral modernity began around 50,000 years ago, when there was a rapid advance toward hunting large game and many modern behaviors (though new evidence sometimes reveals this to be a more gradual transition than first believed). This includes the beginning of jewelry, images (like cave drawings), specialized hunting techniques, and barter trade networks. Somewhere in this period, perhaps around 30,000 years ago when cave paintings appeared, it is believed that religious thought and ritual may have emerged. Early rituals oriented around the burial of the dead.
Early Spiritual BeliefsWhile it’s possible that early burials could have been merely a practical way to keep from luring predators to an area by the meat, it is not difficult to project empathy onto these early humans and consider them sentimental. Regardless of the earliest motivations, it seems clear that at some point it began to have significance, as every modern culture has beliefs surrounding the dead and burial practices. Evidence for the beginning of spirituality is scarce, but the most common hypothesis is it began with animism. A key developmental stage in humans is recognizing that other humans have their own motivations and desires. It is thought that this impression of the agency of other humans extended to other animals, then perhaps to plants, the natural forces of the world (e.g. storms), perhaps even to the inanimate components of the land, or the landscape as a whole. Every part of the world, to them the whole universe, had a personhood ascribed. From there, each area developed their own beginnings of culture, giving even more meaning to these non-human persons. At this point, the total human population of the world was likely less than 500,000 individuals, which means the Effect of Belief had a limited but burgeoning effect. With so little people spread over a large area, there was not enough concentration to, for example, literally create a consciousness for each object merely from the belief in such. However, humans began to create what might be termed superstitious behavior. Smaller ritualized beliefs than a funeral ritual that could be applied to daily life. The hunt played a large role, attracting invention of ritual in the preparation and celebration of the hunt—the role of the hunter to the tribe, the prey giving their life so that the tribe can live, the cycle of birth and death nested symbolically in the activity. Using these small, growing behaviors, their beliefs would begin to influence the world around them in small, subtle ways. At first, it would not be much different from the placebo effect, allowing a hunter to be a little more alert or lucky. The main effect of the magic would be on their own selves, particularly while the group was all together. Beliefs kept them protected in a harsh world. Rituals bonded the community together, both socially and magically.
Early Society and GoddesAs humans began to gather in larger groups, staying more settled in one place over time, they began to create social structures. They progressed from small mobile bands, to larger tribes, until they began to need government. The early, most successful societies oriented around a shared theology. They created a shared social narrative that allowed a functioning society without every person needing to be familiar and trust each other.
- Scientific Name
- Homo genus and previous forms
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