What Happened Before History? Human Origins

What Happened Before History? Human Origins


The world we live in feels normal, ordinary. It feels like this is just how humans exist and always existed. But, it’s not. Never before have we humans lived in a world as sophisticated and engineered to our needs as today. Giving us the luxury to forget about ourselves and not worry about survival. Food, shelter, security – all of this is, more or less, taken for granted. But we’re a special few; for more than 99.99% of human history, life was completely different. And there’s no such thing as just one human history. Our story begins 6 million years ago, when the tribe of hominini split and our relationship with the apes ended. 2.8 million years ago, the genus of homo, the first humans, emerged. We like to think about ourselves as the only humans, but this is far from the truth. When we, homo sapiens sapiens, came into existence 200,000 years ago, there were at least six other human species around. Cousins of comparable intelligence and ability, which must have been incredibly scary, kind of like living with aliens. Some of them were very successful. Homo erectus, for example, survived for 2 million years. Ten times longer than modern humans have existed. The last of the other humans disappeared around 10,000 years ago. We don’t know what caused them to die out. Modern humans have at least a few percent of neanderthal and other human DNA, so there was some mixing, but certainly not enough to be a merger between species. So we don’t know if our cousins went away because they lost the battle over resources, or because of a series of minor genocides. Either way, only we remain. Back to the beginnings of humanity. 2.8 million years ago, early humans used tools, but did not make a lot of progress for nearly 2 million years. Until they learned to control fire. Fire meant cooking, which made food more nutritious, which contributed to the development of our brain. It also produced light and warmth, which made days longer and winters less gruesome. On top of that, it not only scared predators away, it could also be used for hunting. A torched wood or grassland provided small animals, nuts and tubers that were pre-roasted. From 300,000 years ago, most of the different human species lived in small hunter-gatherer societies. They had fire, wood and stone tools, planned for the future, buried their dead, and had cultures of their own. But most importantly, they spoke to each other. Probably in a kind of proto-language, less complex than ours. If we had a time machine, how far would we be able to go back, steal a few babies and raise them today without anyone noticing that they’re a bit different? There is much debate. Anatomically, modern humans emerged 200,000 years ago, but probably 70,000 years is as far as we could travel back and still snatch a behaviourally modern human. Before that, the babies would probably lack a few crucial gene mutations Necessary to build a brain with modern language and abstract thinking abilities. At some point, around 50,000 years ago, there was an explosion in innovation. Tools and weapons became more sophisticated and culture became more complex, because at this point, humans had a multi-purpose brain, and a more advanced language to communicate information with each other effectively, and down to the last detail. This allowed much closer cooperation, and is what really makes us different from any other creature on Earth. Not our comparatively weak bodies and inferior senses, but the ability to cooperate flexibly in large groups, unlike, for example, rigid beehives or intimate, but tiny wolf packs. As our brain evolved, we became able to do something, life had been unable to do up to this point. One – expand knowledge quickly. Two – preserve the knowledge gained over generations. Three – build on past knowledge, to gain even deeper insight. This seems daft, but until then, information had to be passed on from generation to generation, mostly through genetics, which is not efficient. Still, for the next 40,000 years, human life remained more or less the same. There was little to build upon. Our ancestors were only one animal among many. Building a skyscraper without knowing what a house is… is hard. But while it is easy to be arrogant in our attitude to our ancestors, this would be ignorant. Humans 50,000 years ago were survival specialists. They had a detailed mental map of their territory, their senses were fine-tuned to the environment, they knew and memorized a great amount of information about plants and animals. They could make complicated tools that required years of careful training and very fine motor skills Their bodies compared to our athletes today just because of their daily routines, and they lived a rich social life within their tribe Survival required so many skills that the average brain volume of early modern humans might even have been bigger than it is today As a group we know more today, but as individuals our ancestors were superior to us But then around 12,000 years ago, in multiple locations, humans developed agriculture. Everything changed very quickly. Before, survival as a hunter and forager required superb physical and mental abilities in all fields from everybody With the rise of the agricultural age, individuals could increasingly rely on the skills of others for survival. This meant that some of them could specialize. Maybe they worked on better tools, maybe they took time to breed more resistant crops or better livestock, Maybe they started inventing things. As farming got more and more efficient, what we call civilization began Agriculture gave us a reliable and predictable food source, which allowed humans to hoard food on a large scale for the first time, which is much easier to do with grains than meat, The food stock required protection, which led to communities living together in tighter spaces First, early defense structures were built, the need for organization grew The more organized we got, the faster things became efficient Villages became cities, cities became kingdoms, kingdoms became empires Connections between humans exploded which led to opportunities to exchange knowledge Progress became exponential About 500 years ago the Scientific Revolution began Mathematics, Physics, Astronomy, Biology, and Chemistry transformed everything we thought we knew The Industrial Revolution followed soon after laying the foundation for the modern world As our overall efficiency grew exponentially, more people could spend their lifetime contributing to the progress of humanity Revolutions kept happening. The invention of the computer, its evolution into a medium we all use on a daily basis, and the rise of the Internet shaped our world It’s hard to grasp how fast all of that happened It’s been about 125,000 generations since the emergence of the first human species About 7,500 generations since the physiologically modern humans saw the light of day 500 generations ago, what we call civilization began 20 generations ago, we learned how to do science And the Internet became available to most people only one generation ago Today we live in the most prosperous age humanity has ever experienced We have transformed this planet, from the composition of its atmosphere to large-scale changes in its landscape and also in terms of the other animals in existence. We light up the night with artificial stars and put people in a metal box in the sky Some have even walked on our Moon We put robots on other planets We’ve looked deep into the past of the universe with mechanical eyes Our knowledge and our way of acquiring and storing more of it has exploded The average high school student today knows more about the universe than a scholar a few centuries ago Humans dominate this planet, even if our rule is very fragile We are still not that different from our ancestors 70,000 years ago But your lifestyle has existed for less than 0.001% of human history From here on, there’s no saying what the future holds for us We’re building a skyscraper, but we’re not sure if it’s standing on a solid foundation or if we’re building it on quicksand Let’s leave it with that for now The next time you miss your train, your burger is not hot enough, or someone cuts in line Remember how special this made-up human world is Maybe it’s not worth being upset about all those little things. This video was supported by audible.com/nutshell In the making of it, we used the book “Sapiens: a brief history of humankind” as one of the major sources. If you want to get to it, or any other for free and support us, go to audible.com/nutshell and get a free 30-day trial It’s so hard to read books when you have the internet, so we can at least listen to them In general, we listen to a lot of audiobooks while designing our videos, so we can highly recommend audible OK, so this was our first take on making a history-related video we’d love to make much more of them, but they take even more time than our average video. So we might do 3 or 4 a year. Your feedback’s very welcome here Thank you so much for watching,
and if you want to support us directly, you can do so on Patreon. It really helps us out. While you think about it, here are more videos, if you need more distraction.

100 thoughts on “What Happened Before History? Human Origins

  1. Only two ways we originated unless of course your a lunatic and believe some god created everything…1.We originated from another plant or 2. A group of gorrilas/monkeys came across a field of mushrooms and ate then which in turn opened a part the brain that had never been awake..

  2. My younger nephew somehow does not get bored to this when I watch it on the big screen. Must be the colorful animations. I just wish he'll refrain from asking questions while we watch.

  3. Ever since you guys did that video about how every human life is actually part of some great entity that will become God one day I can't watch any of your non- hard science videos without a huge helping of skepticism

  4. I do love how you put “sailor moon stick” on the moon in this clip, by the way, your vdo is just easy to understand. Thank you for sharing very nice knowledge.

  5. Seems to me the inspiration for this storytelling style and the channel as a whole was the universal encyclopedia in the Hitchhikers Galaxy. AmIright ?

  6. Great video made me think of our near future(before the year 2100). Will we survive as a species? With all the technology that is wonderful but yet dangerous in the wrong hands, can we as individuals disagree with each other, yet live in harmony and be civil with each other. Can we use our collective instinct to want to live, make us figure out how to help the other 25 1/2 million species survive as we (Homo Sapiens) continue to exponentially grow and encroach on every species that inhabit and share our amazing planet.

  7. Only a select few of us are smart enough to realize this I’m not trying to be mean here folks very few of us live up to our species Latin name Wiseman

  8. I wonder in what kind of world my next fifth generation will live in. Maybe in post-apocalyptic world ? or in other good else ? I am hoping for the best .

  9. All this historical drama all leading up too the creation of Takashi 69 and Tik Tok…….Everywhere out there, Aliens are face palming

  10. For 2000 years( not including prehistoric as were still learning) we were busy conquering each other we didn't knew there was a whole universe out there.

  11. The other specimens was not killed, they had mixed with sapiens and are living now with us, but it is not politically correct to say that because the aboriginals and the asians certain are the same specimens.

  12. I wonder sometimes if what we think we know is actually a tiny fragment of our true past. Perhaps our true history is radically different. Are we only 200,000 years old… or several million?

  13. 0:13 I like when you say the word ''sophisticated'' and a ''smart''phone appears along with medicine and satellites…great parallels you made, consuming garbage with fundamental science, you don't seem much sophisticated
    EDIT: 0:23 then says the word ''food''… shows a dirty slice of pizza… the picture that all great lexicons have by the word ''food'' … this is so naive i can't keep up xD

  14. I wish there was a way to simulate what it would be like to exist as another kind of animal. One could spend a day feeling out what it's like to be a dog, a fish, a cat, or a horse…maybe then we'd appreciate all that being human gives us. We are a breed apart, and it is rather alarming to consider how different we are from the rest….I can't stop wondering why that is…

  15. If it's worth it, I'm not upset about the lion eating my great great great great great great great grand cousin in the savanna anymore.

  16. And if you believe we came from monkeys, who have two more chromosomes than us, then please do not let me stop your indoctrination to this bs narrative.
    Those that want to know more about our origins need to dig deep. Spoiler alert, it does not involve Darwin and his ridiculous theories
    LLOYD PYE had an interesting hypothesis

  17. my money us on 3 things. weather, food and disease. mankind got lucky. got REALLY lucky. and thats why we're still around.

  18. Waow. No. This thing about fire+cookedfood+bigger brain is just false, it's an urban legend. Anthropologist say are trying on and on to repeat this!

  19. I sometimes think about humans and it makes me feel so curious. Why are we so different from other creatures, and why are we here. I also have very selfish thoughts about how I am a character in some sort of game, and I am the main character, and everyone else is just there for me to meet. Another thing I can’t grasp is what happens after death, I used to think is that when you die your just in a place, nothing at all, the one I’m really caught on is that after you die your reborn to who you were, but different. I know it’s silly but I really get caught on this stuff

  20. "LAST OTHER HUMANS DIED 10K YEARS AGO WE DON'T KNOW HOW"
    Answer is in the prophet noah story when he built a ship when his people made fun of him and who believed in him went with him then god made earth rain so hard and water came out of ground to witch made everyone 🙂 if you have something to say search for noah story

  21. You miught have mentioned that we have no true history 10,000 years ago and its our best guess. We easily could have been this tech hungry before, and just got taken down by that Flood, that we do know happened, and not by writtings, but geologial findings.

    All the best, DC

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