About 3 million years 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. But, no matter what you might have seen in the movies, dinosaurs did NOT live at the same time as man. Dinosaurs died out about 65 million years ago.
About this same time in history, around 3 million years ago, the higher primates, including apes and early humans (hominids), first appeared. A hominid is a kind of slang term among scientists. It means mankind and anything that looks and acts like mankind.
There was a difference between the apes and hominids. 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 they 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 that lived over 3 million years ago! How do we know they even existed? Lucy told us!