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Evolution History Map
The Homo erectus brain is larger than the habilis', ranging from 750-1225cc. However their bodies were about as heavy as ourselves, so the brain-to-body ratio was low. The emergence of Homo erectus (also closely associated with Homo ergaster) was an anatomical revolution, probably related to major behavioral changes. They were the first genuine humans, fully independent of trees. Up until recently it was believed erectus lived from 1.8 million to 300,000 years ago. New evidence suggests Erectus lived as recently as 53,000-27,000 years ago. They were also the first international travelers to spread out of Africa. In fact, most recent evidence points to their being the first mariners who navigated on open waters between 800,000 and 900,000 years ago.

Erectus people were the first innovative inventors and one of their major achievements were tools that created sparks to ignite fire. They discovered that rubbing two sticks together would create a spark to provide a means to cook their meat and to keep themselves warm.

The largest explosion of brain growth occurred at the time between late Homo erectus and early Homo sapien, 500,000-100,000 years ago. Not only did growth occur in brain size, but cranial capacity expanded remarkably as well. The inner proportions of the brain were also affected by these changes. Anthropologists consider this period the most remarkable evolution expansion in the brain to occur in all of the history of human evolution.

Much of the evidence we have about this species is due to the work of the Leakey family, that has made enormous contributions to the field of anthropology. Though many others have also contributed, the Leaky's have been particularly pivitol in the discovery and understanding of brain expansion during this period, among others.

Photos - California Academy of Sciences
Exhibition - August, 1999


First Mariners
Mark Rose, Archaeological Institute of America, 1998

Homo Erectus Survival
Mark Rose, Archaeological Institute of America, 1997

Early Humans, Eyewitness Books
Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1989

From Lucy to Language,
Donald Johanson & Blake Edgar
Simon & Schuster, 1996