Homo Habilis "Handy Man" Illustration

Early Humans for Kids
Homo Habilis "Handy Man"
First true humans - the tool-makers
1.8 to 1.6 million BCE


This early man lived in Africa.

Early man did not have sharp claws or strong sharp teeth. He was not larger or stronger than other animals. He could not run like deer or antelope. So how did early man survive?

He had to use the things that animals did not have, reason and invention. Early man invented and created stone and bone weapons and tools. With these tools, early man could kill and trap those animals he needed for food. With stone axes and spears, he could defend against those animals that thought he might be food. Since many of the tools he created were made out of stone, this is called the Stone Age.

The Stone Age is considered to have begun about two million years ago, and ended sometime after the end of the last ice age about ten thousand years ago.

During the stone age, Homo Habilis appeared. These early people were mostly vegetarian eating fruits, nuts, berries and occasionally fish and animals they hunted. They were not great hunters due to the crude construction of their spears and axes, but they did get the job done.

Some scientists believe that Homo Habilis did not know how to start a fire. Homo Habilis did use fire and made campfires, but these were probably started by finding something that was already burning from a lightning strike.

Campfires were very useful to homo Habilis since fire keeps most animals away, so a campfire would be watched carefully to keep it going. Some people have called Homo Habilis cave men. This is probably not true. Since they had to move constantly to find food to eat, they could not settle down in one place. Caves are also home to some very mean predators such as bears and lions so Homo Habilis probably avoided caves.

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