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. The near future mission is to acheive sustainability, To produce clean renewable energy, Stop climate change, stabilize the environment and control pollution and wastes, find more cure for complexe diseases, And we're 100% done and can say we are masters of earth

  2. I'd propose a theory that there was a much more intelligent period in our history; One that didn't rely on our ideal of electronics, infrastructure, and mechanics as a basis of advancement. We did have lots of book burnings, wars, and lost civilizations. Who's to say a smarter version of us hasn't left us behind or destroyed eachother to the point of taking major steps backwards.

    I'd say we don't have a clue of the vast knowledge lost through time and the changes to our curriculum over the last century. Many discoveries and advancements have been made, yes. But i think there is a proverbial elephant in the room over gradeschool to high school, and then onto liberal arts colleges.

  3. This means that our planet was a game to be played, or a mystery to be solved but only it was the hardest and most complex game or mystery for us to play/solve. Everything was there, we just did not have a proper brain and proper knowledge of the tools and resources around us. The earth has been same ever since it was born. Only the species around it changed in all these years – the age of dinosours, the ice age and the birth of first humans. What would our future be in 2 million years. 🤪

  4. Anyone care to explain how early humans had time to build megalithic structures that we would struggle to recreate with modern technology while focusing on survival?

  5. Bruh 90 seconds in and my mind is melted. The idea that Homo Sapiens are the most successful human that ever existed has to be one of the biggest lies ever told in our history!! If you look at the numbers, just the raw stats, we ain't got SHIT on Homo Erectus!!! THEY ARE THE TRUE MVP OF EARTH, HOMO SAPIENS: WHAT WE DOIN FAM? WE ONLY BEEN HERE FOR 20,000 YEARS AND WE ABOUT TO DESTROY EVERYTHING LMFAO

  6. When they say "our" ancestors they mean white people.. even though they dont go passed 6,000 years ago they think that they are the only ones of importance when its actually the opposite. For instance, If a white person didn't discover it it doesn't exist.

  7. Our ancestors were much more badass than today's human literally they killed a dangerous wild animal WITH A ROCK

  8. Fun! I think the channel could have a lots of fun looking at common vs Roman law, history of chemistry, astronomy/astrology, and biology.

  9. Hyena clans can get over 100 clan members and still be able to work together.There are many animals on this planet if they actually needed too on a large scale.We didn’t do this just bc we could,we did it bc we felt like we have to,and back then,honestly,if we didn’t move on,this stupid species would’ve went extinct.Other animals(which I say bc humans are obviously animals)are so good at what they do,they didn’t need to use anything other than what they were born with just to survive.Of course,just like most animals,there was intelligence to keep the species going,but to destroy the world,or as some think,”Rule it”,I say it was based on curiosity that killed a lot of people,and luck

  10. 6:03 , you've got the preferred specializations of each gender reversed. I know it's trendy to flip flop gender roles, but it is what has created society today. the diversification of acceptable roles has only happened within the past 100 years and still has not changed the preferred roles of each gender. Everyone has every right to do what they desire, it's no one's fault if women want to be nurses, caretakers of animals, or florists while men want to be engineers, soldiers, and tradesmen. It's how we've simply evolved and there's no artificial way to inject it into people without a natural inclination.

  11. Me: Can't remember the route to my friend's house
    My ancestor who travelled 420km every day to get hard rock for an axe and then goes 69km to go and hunt a woolly mammoth with his 69,420 tribesmen:
    Press Y for shame

  12. Ancestor: hunts all kind of animals
    Me: not shaving my beard cause it hurt me IM THE REAL MAN HERE I GOT A BEARD WITH VANILLA SHAMPOO SMELL

  13. Why are there so many bursts of development far apart, yet around the same time across the world, rather than a steady increase at the early stages of our development?

  14. Woo, Starfox is the pinnacle of modern civilization. Also, I never realized that it was only ten thousand years ago that the last of the other human species went extinct.

  15. One think I don't understand about evolution is how you go to bed one day as an ape and wake up the next as a homo sapien. Scientists are experts in picking pieces of fossils and fill the gap themselves without actually explaining the transition.

  16. Your closing point is most pertinent. I'm certain that people 10,000 years ago complained less than the comparatively pampered people of today.

  17. Fun fact : Allah the God of Islam says in Quran "you think you are the only bashar (human) that i created and there was no other bashar before you on earth" one of Allah's creations before naas (modern human) was nasnaas (a human which was something between human and monkey)

  18. who reckons humans killed all the similar human species and thast explains why we're such @#!s, we were the more aggresive species

  19. Now I wish I was born 10,000 years ago
    I would have much more rich adventurous thrilling life
    At least alot better than this born ass life
    Wake up go to work or school
    Caring what others think and working for a boss
    And jerking off fo pixels on scree.

  20. The only thing that separates us from other creatures is our records of our own history.. lots of species communicate you cant tell me ants give each other some signals.. but they dont think of the future or pass they just work for the present

  21. Other animals: Hahaha Just look at those smoothskin bipedal abominations, they wont survive long!

    Homo Sapiens Sapiens:
    Hold my berries…

  22. I think that chimpanzee evolved from a two feet person. Maybe they had big cities and they ran to the jungles. evolved bacteria ate all the plastic, later that plastic eating bacteria started to eat more natural food.

  23. The last comment is beautiful!…We must not bother about small things…and be really thankful to all the privileges we have…in this modern age! Just Amazing!……

  24. I’ve seen first hand the difference between civilization and a high-stress primitive life style. When I got back to civilization, everything felt like a candy-land of comforts, somewhat unbelievable. You almost can’t process the change right away, and you’re just glad to rest on a mattress, having to remind yourself that you’re not stuck out where you were anymore. Everything suddenly seems so easy, the ground is flat and paved and simple to traverse. Everything feels artificial, spoiling almost. It feels unfair. You then stop getting upset at inconveniences and instead get angry at those who do get upset at inconvenience. That’s when you realize just how far humanity has come since the stone age. Y’all don’t know just how much (99.9%) of your lifestyle you take for granted.

  25. It's kind of incredible how fast we're evolving compared to when we started. 100 years ago we could store 1 mgb of space in the size of a house. Nowadays we can store damn near millions on the size of a fingernail.

  26. Present human: did you know that black holes spin?
    Caveman: killed any bears recently?
    Present human:…
    Present human: y e s… I did
    Caveman: what? How?
    Present human: G U N

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