About 3 million year ago, the earth was
populated with deer, giraffes, hyenas, cattle, sheep, goats, antelope,
gazelles, horses, elephants, rhinoceroses, camels, ground squirrels,
beavers, cave lions, ants, termites, porpoises, whales, dogs with huge
teeth, and saber-toothed tigers! Giant sharks, about 42 feet long, were
plentiful. There were all kinds of birds and plants and fish, similar to
birds, plants and fish today.
(Dinosaurs, in case you missed the introduction,
died out about 65 million years ago. They were long gone.)
About this same time in history, around 3
million years ago, the higher primates, including apes and early man,
There was a difference
between apes and man.
Human-like hominids could stand
upright. Apes could not.
Their hands were different, too. Ape
hands were made for climbing and clinging. Early man's hands were
jointed differently, which allowed them to not only use tools,
but to make tools.
No one knows if these very early
human-like people actually made tools, but remains of polished bones
have been found in South Africa, which suggests they might have made
simple digging tools from bone!
Their diet was mostly vegetarian, along
with some meat, probably obtained by scavenging.
You might wonder how we know anything
about hominids who lived over 3 million years ago! How do we know they
even existed? Lucy told us!
In 1974, a skeleton was found in Africa.
The bones were those of young female, approximately 20 years old when
she died. Scientists named this "young lady" Lucy.
About 3 million years ago, when Lucy was
alive, she was rather short, about 4 feet tall, and probably weighed
about 50 pounds. Her brain was about the size of an orange. Her bones
showed she probably walked erect, although she still had the ability
to climb trees easily.
There were no signs of broken bones or
teeth marks that might show why she died. Scientists suspect that she
probably fell into a lake or river and drowned.
Scientists are like
detectives. They can tell a great deal from a skeleton, whether it's a
year old, or 3 million years old!