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6. Early Humans
Humans are unusual. We walk upright and build cities, we travel from continent to continent in hours, and we communicate across the globe in an instant. We alone can build bombs and invent medicines. Why can we do all these things that other creatures can’t? What makes us so different from other species?
All content in “6. Early Humans”

6.0—How Our Ancestors Evolved

We might share a lot with our primate cousins, but our bigger brains, our ability to walk upright, and other physical "improvements," are all adaptations that make humans unique.

6.1—Ways of Knowing: Early Humans

We’re obsessed with understanding the roots of who we are as a species. Anthropologists, archaeologists, and primatologists are the most obsessed, as they work to paint a picture of early human life.

6.2—Collective Learning

Our talent for preserving and sharing information, passing it from one generation to the next, has made us the most powerful species on the planet.

6.3—How Did the First Humans Live?

Our Paleolithic ancestors were foraging nomads who eventually migrated across six continents. These early humans made tools, used fire, and sustained themselves in diverse environmental conditions.


Review Big History vocabulary and take the Glossary Challenge.


Download the teacher resources from the Big History Project classroom version of this course. Text transcripts for videos are also available.