Human evolution is a historically complex scientific topic. Yet, while we may not all always agree, one thing we can settle on for sure is our shared ancestry and species tag Homo sapien. Although what scientists consider to be the first evolved Homo sapiens were believed to have originated in Africa between 200,000 and 150,000 years ago, the story of humans predates that by many years. In fact, our evolutionary predecessor, Homo erectus, had already been traveling in and out of Africa and exploring regions of what is now Europe and Asia for about a million years. That knowledge helps us understand why different cultures and people demonstrate such a diverse range of physical characteristics, yet extremely similar genetic material—and why 98.5 percent of our DNA makeup is shared with chimpanzees. And while we're not entirely sure how long ago the human ancestral line first emerged, researchers believe archeological evidence shows our lineage was in existence anywhere from five to eight million years ago.
So what was life like for early humans, and how do cultural changes like diet, geography, weather and disease play a role in how humans evolve today? Scientists date human culture back only about 50,000 years, marking it as a relatively new phenomena when compared to how long humans have existed. Learn more about the fascinating lineage of humans and how time has impacted the evolutionary process.