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Where did Life Begin?

Updated on June 14, 2013

Where did life begin for humans?

Many people wonder where life began. There are many theories, but few are proven by science. I am going to show you where life began, and I will make it as simple as possible. Please be aware that anything could have happened, but the idea below is the most probable. This in no way reflects my personal views, and I am not trying to change what you believe. I am simply sharing what science has shown us, and giving you another option to consider.

The Start

Today all scientists agree that life started millions of years ago in Africa. However, if a scientist was asked 89 years ago, the common answer would be Eurasia.

In 1923, Raymond Dart went to the University of Witwatersrand as the head of the anatomy department. After working there, he found out there were no bones or fossils anywhere in the university. He started looking for some with the help of his class. He offered his students prizes for any fascinating bones they could find. One student, Josephine Salmons, gave him a fossil that would eventually go down in history. Raymond started to think of Charles Darwin and his theory of Evolution. Raymond remembered that Darwin predicted that human's earliest ancestors would be found in Africa because of the enormous amount of chimpanzees and gorillas inhabiting the area. As those animals are our closest ancestors, it is logical to conclude that humans evolved from these animals millions and millions of years ago.

(*Please remember this is all based on science, if you disagree that is okay and none of this reflects my own personal beliefs)

The Middle

Up to that point, not many other fossils had been found like the one Raymond was studying; in fact, only two had been discovered and they were thought to be more similar to a more recent human. After 73 days of scraping the dirt away from the skull, Dart discovered what appeared to be the child's skull, containing teeth and a jaw that closely resembled the human skull.

These features made the skull so similar to a human, that Dart concluded that this had to be a primitive child, which he named Australopithecus africanus, later known as the Taung child. . In Europe, scientists and the media thought this was outrageous, and began to lose respect for Dart. This was not the first fossil that was unfairly rejected by the European scientists, Eugene Dubois told scientists about a well preserved group of fossils from the island of Java in Indonesia. Dubois was also rejected for his ideas, and did not get any credit for them until after he had died. Fortunately for Raymond, he did get credit within his lifetime. Almost all other scientists believed Dart's fossil to be solely a young ape, and nothing more. Broom, another scientists began to find evidence in 1936, he found many fossils such arms and legs of different hominin species. Broom was able to confirm that all of these species walked upright, just as we do today. These new finds sparked the search for more fossils. Darts students were full of enthusiasm, and in 1947 he was finally given credit for his discoveries.

According to scientists, Darts skull (which is now called the Nutcracker man) was dated to be 1.75 million years old. As technology advances, scientists have the tools to compare DNA of a human, with what we believed to be our ancestors. Human DNA was compared to that of a chimpanzee, macaque, and a mouse. This helped scientists approximate the date when our common ancestor mutated and created new species. This technique, called the molecular clock, told scientists that human and chip lineages split between five and seven million years ago. Advances in science are also giving scientists answers about Homo neanderthalensis. In the region of 30,000 years ago, modern humans and Neanderthals coexisted. Many scientists wondered in fact the two species mated, or if it was even possible.

After many more genetic tests, data showed that they were 99.5 percent identical, but when it is considered that all Neanderthals died off and the modern human race lived on, it is believed that they did not mate. However, this is not certain. Even though all evidence supports this hypothesis, there is no way to know for sure whether or not the two species mated until more research is done. Less than a century later, the entire world's view of where human life started was changed, and to this day, we all believe that life started in Africa. Until this is proved wrong, it's the new normal.

The End

After many more genetic tests, data showed that they were 99.5 percent identical, but when it is considered that all Neanderthals died off and the modern human race lived on, it is believed that they did not mate. However, this is not certain. Even though all evidence supports this hypothesis, there is no way to know for sure whether or not the two species mated until more research is done. Less than a century later, the entire world's view of where human life started was changed, and to this day, we all believe that life started in Africa. Until this is proved wrong, it's the new normal.

Rescources

Staff, S. (2009, May 12). How did Humans Develop? Science Ilustrated. Retrieved September 13, 2011, from www.popsci.com/node/32081

What are your views on life's beginning?

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    • profile image

      othellos 4 years ago

      Very nice lens. Informative and well researched.

    • flinnie lm profile image

      Gloria Freeman 4 years ago from Alabama USA

      Hi I enjoyed reading this.

    • Projectlazy profile image

      Projectlazy 5 years ago

      I remember reading a fewmonths back about a place in china if I can find it I'll source it for you.

    • AayBee profile image

      AayBee 5 years ago

      Good lens. Keep it up !

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      There is so much controversy this. Great info in this lens.

    • JoleneBelmain profile image

      JoleneBelmain 5 years ago

      This is a very fascinating topic for sure and I would love to find out more about the beginning of life and where it started :)

    • profile image

      Auriel 5 years ago

      great information..thumbs up!

    • siobhanryan profile image

      siobhanryan 5 years ago

      Very interesting

    • RoadMonkey profile image

      RoadMonkey 5 years ago

      You know, when you're my age, the 1930's aren't that long ago. They were my parents' era and it's surprising that things we take so much for granted now were not known about or were disputed within th elives of my parents.

    • profile image

      zacrew7 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Thank you very much!

    • profile image

      zacrew7 5 years ago

      @revois: Thanks!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Very interesting and informative article

    • profile image

      revois 5 years ago

      Very interesting article, good read.