About 13 billion years ago, matter,
energy, time, and space, came into being
in what is known as The Big Bang.
The story of this fundamental features of
our universe is called physics.
Physics examines how matter, energy,
time, and space interact with one another
About 300,000 years after their
appearance matter and energy started to
combine into complex struct, structures
which we call atoms.
And these atoms then combined into even
more complex structures which are called
The story of atoms, molecules, and their
interactions is called chemistry.
Chemistry examines what happens when an
oxygen atom comes into contact with a
hydrogen atom or when a solid molecule
comes into contact with a water molecule.
This is what chemistry does.
About 4 billion years ago on a planet
called earth certain molecules combined
to form even larger and more complex
structures which we call organisms, or
The story of organisms is biology.
Biology examines how for example a lion
or a giraffe function and what happens
when a lion comes into contact with a
This is biology.
About 70,000 years ago, organisms
belonging to a very particular specie,
our species, Homo sapiens started to come
together and combine and form even more
elaborate structures, which we call
The development of these human cultures
This is what this course will be about,
the formation and development and
interaction of human cultures from about
70,000 years ago until today.
From this perspective, what is essential
to realize is that there is no
unbridgeable gap between history on the
one side, and physics, chemistry, and
biology on the other side.
History is simply the next stage in the
process of ongoing complexity in the
We have physical dynamics and then they
become more and more complex.
We have chemistry, chemical dynamics.
And then, chemical dynamics become more
and more complex.
We have biology, biological dynamics and
when biology becomes very, very complex,
then we get history.
Now, three very important things happened
You can, you can summarize the whole of
history in just three main revolutions or
three main events the first is the
The cognitive revolution began about
70,000 years ago.
In this revolution, Homo sapiens which
previously was just an insignificant
specie of African ape evolved unique
Cognitive abilities means thinking,
remembering, communicating, learning.
These are the cognitive abilities.
So Homo sapiens developed unique
cognitive abilities that gave it immense
power and turned it into the most
important animal in the world.
So this is the first big revolution of
history, the cognitive revolution.
The second big revolution of history is
the agricultural revolution and it began
about 12,000 years ago.
During the agricultural revolution, Homo
sapiens domesticated certain kinds of
animals and plants, established villages
and, and, and cities and other permanent
settlements and began to create ever more
Cities and kingdoms and empires and
churches and so forth.
So this is the second big revolution of
history, the agricultural revolution.
The third big revolution, revolution of
history is the scientific revolution.
It began about 500 years ago.
And during the scientific revolution,
Homo sapiens understood, better and
better, the rules that govern the natural
world around it and inside it.
And thereby, gained more and more power
and became the master of the entire
It has become so powerful that today it
actually begins to change the most basic
rules of life.
For about 4 billion years life on earth
evolved according to the laws of, to the
rules of natural selection, evolution by
And today, Homo sapiens is gaining so
Thanks to technologies like genetic
engineering and direct brain computer
interfaces and so on and so forth, it is
expected that in the next century or two,
it will really completely change the way
that life evolves on planet earth, and in
the Universe in general.
We will come to speak about this in
At the end of the course, when we'll
discuss revolutions at the ecological
and, and, political changes of the 20th
and 21st century.
What you will do in this course is to
survey these three fundamental
revolutions of history.
The Cognitive revolution, the
Agricultural revolution, and the
And we'll examine what was their impact
both upon human beings and upon the
fellow organisms and the environment
Now, it's very important to realize that
humans existed long before history.
History began as according to evolution
about 70,000 years ago, but animals much
like you and me, much like modern humans
first appeared about 2 and a half billion
years ago in East Africa.
However, for most of these 2 and half and
billion years our ancestors, our human
ancestors were just another kind of
There was nothing special about humans.
There was no hint that their, great,
great, great grandchildren would one day,
walk on the moon, or split the atom, or
understand DNA, or write history books.
The most important thing to know, about
prehistoric humans, it it is, that they
were unimportant creatures.
They did not have more impact upon the
world than say gorillas, or fireflies, or
The history of ancient humans was just
another chapter in the big book of
Now, biologists classify animals into
species animals are said to belong to the
same species if they tend to have sex
with one another to mate with one
another, giving birth to fertile
Horses and donkeys for example, they look
quite similar and they are indeed very
similar in many of their qualities, but
horses and donkeys usually, have little
sexual interest, one in the other.
People sometimes force horses and donkeys
to mate and then they even can produce
But their offspring, which are called
mules, are always sterile.
This shows, that horses and donkeys,
despite all the similarities between
them, are in fact, two completely
Since, they cannot exchange genes between
them, they are evolving, over the
generation, in different directions.
When there is some important genetic
mutation in a horse, it can never pass to
donkeys because they can't produce
fertile offspring together.
So, this is why, they're separate,
different species in contrast.
A Bulldog and a Cocker Spaniel may look
very different from one another, but they
will happily mate.
They have a lot of sexual interest, one
in the other, and when they mate, they
can produce fertile puppies that will
grow up to mate with other, other dogs,
and produce more puppies, and so forth
and so on.
So this is why Bulldogs and Spaniels are
considered members of the same species.
They are both dogs.
Now, species that evolved from common
ancestors, even when they are different
from one another like horses and donkeys,
still a similar species that evolved from
a common ancestor are bunched together by
biologist under the heading, under the
This is how scientists called a group of
species that evolved from a common
ancestor, they call it genus, the plural
of genus is genera.
For example, lions, tigers, leopards and
jaguars are different species within the
It's, also, it's important to know, that
scientists usually like to use the Latin
language in order to name things, because
everything's sounds far more impressive
and scientific when you say it in Latin.
So, for example, all the medicines we use
or the name of the muscles in our bodies
are all in Latin.
Also, the names of animals, biologists,
and plants, and all other organisms,
biologists like to use Latin to give
animals those scientific name.
And the rule is that a scientific name of
each animal has two parts.
First, the genus, and then the specie.
Lions for example, the scientific name of
the lion is not lion.
When you write in, in, in scientific
articles about lions you don't speak
about lions, you speak about Panthera
This is the scientific name of the lion.
Panthera is the name of the genus.
It comes first, and then leo, this is the
name of the species.
It comes second, so lion is Panthera leo.
You and me, and I guess everybody who
watches this video, we are all a Homo
This is the scientific name of our
species, Homo sapiens, which means the
species, sapiens, a Latin word meaning
wise, of the genus Homo, a Latin word
So the meaning of the scientific name
Homo sapiens is wise men, this is the
name we gave ourselves, we might be very
wise but we are not particularly modest.
Genera, so this is genus, and genera.
The, the, genera is the plural of the
It's quite complicated.
Genera in their term are also grouped by
biologists into larger collectives which
are known as families.
So we have in nature, for example the cat
family, which includes many, many genera
and species of cats like all the lions
and cheetahs and house cats, they all
belong to the cat family.
And we have the dog family, which
includes not only dogs but all kinds of
wolves and, and foxes, and jackals.
They all belong to the big family the dog
And we have the elephant family, which
includes Indian elephants and African
elephants, and extinct species of
elephants, like mammoth and mastodons.
What is important to know is that all
members of the family Trace the lineage
back to some ancient ancestor who is the
great, great, great grandmother or
grandfather of all of them.
All the cats for example, from the most
ferocious lion in the African Savannah to
the smallest, cutest, house kitten in
They all have the same great, great,
great ancestor, who lived about 25
million years ago.
So, these are families.
Homo sapiens too, our species, belongs to
A biological family.
This banal fact, used to be one of the
most closely guarded secrets of history.
For thousands of years, Homo sapiens
preferred to view itself as totally
different from all the other animals and
set apart from all the other animals as a
kind of orphan, which has no family, no
cousins, no siblings, and most
importantlym no parents.
As if Homo sapiens just popped up on
earth without having any evolutionary
ancestors, but that is just not the case.
Whether you like it or not, the truth is
that we, the species Homo sapiens are
also members of a large and particularly
noisy family called, the family of great
Just as lions and cheetahs belong to the
family of cats.
So we Homo sapiens have a family called
the great apes.
There are some other members of this
family, which are still living today in
Our closest cousins, our closest
relatives which are still alive, includes
the chimpanzees, the gorillas, and
Of these, chimpanzees are the closest to
Just 6 million years ago, if you went
back in time 6 million years, you would
find somewhere in Africa a single female
ape who had two daughters.
One of her daughters became the ancestor
of all the chimpanzees and the sister,
the other daughter, she's yours and mine
great, great, great, great, great
So Homo sapiens belongs to a family.
Homo sapiens has kept hidden an even more
We have not only a big family with many
Once upon a time, we also had quite a few
brothers and sisters.
We, that is Homo sapiens, we tend to call
ourselves not Homo sapiens.
Usually, when we speak about ourselves,
we use the title human as if only us are
human we are the only humans.
But the fact is that there used to be
many other human species on planet Earth.
Humans simply means animals that belong
to the genus Homo, that is man in Latin.
So this humans, they first appeared in
East Africa, about 2 and a half million
They did not appear out of nowhere, they
evolved from an earlier genus of apes,
which is called Australopithecus.
It has nothing to do with Australia, this
It simply means southern ape.
so Australopithecus was the ancient
ancestor of humans.
The first human specie evolved from
Australopithecus somewhere in east Africa
about 2 and a half million years ago.
At first, it was the only human specie,
but, about 2 million years ago, some of
these archaic men and women left their
homeland in east Africa and spread around
the world, settling various areas in
North Africa, the Middle East Europe and
And in each area, these men and women
encountered different conditions, a
different climate, different geography,
animals and plants.
And in order to adapt to these different
conditions, the human populations, in
each of those areas began to evolve in
And this created, with time, completely
different human species.
For example, humans who after leaving
Africa, reached northern Europe, they
needed to adapt to the very cold climate
of northern Europe with lots of ice and
And all kinds of big animals like birds
and mammoth and mastodons.
Other humans, after leaving Africa, they
eventually ended up in Indonesia and they
needed to adapt to the very hot, tropical
climate of the jungles and swamps of
Other humans, meanwhile, reached central
Asia, the deserts of central Asia, and
they needed to adapt to survive the very
dry climates of central Asia.
So the result was that over the years,
many, many different species of humans
evolved in different parts of the world.
And to each of these different human
species, scientists have assigned its own
pompous Latin name.
Now, you don't need to remember the names
of the different species and the details
that I'm going to tell about the
But I would like to take a few minutes to
tell you about some of these, of ancient
brothers and sisters of ours, some of
these ancient human species so that you
will know our family a little better.
In Europe, in the Middle East a gold
uh,specie of humans which scientists call
This means in Latin, man from the Neander
The name was given because the first
remains of these ancient humans were
discovered by archaeologists in the
Neander Valley in Germany.
So they called this species men from the
Neander valley, Homo neanderthalensis,
but they also gave these humans a
nickname, which everybody uses and I will
also use, they are the Neanderthals.
Neanderthals were well adapted to the
cold climate of ice age Europe and the
Even the Middle East was at that time
much colder than it is today.
Neanderthals were bigger, more muscular
They had insulating layers of fat
covering their bodies to give them better
protection from the cold and they even
had bigger brains that we have.
So this was one human specie as it
evolved in Europe and the Middle East.
In another part of the world, on the
island of Java in Indonesia, evolved Homo
This means, in Latin again, man from the
Solo Valley, because the first remains of
this human specie were discovered by
archaeologists in the Solo Valley on Java
And Java had tropical climate so Homo
soloensis was evolving over the years to
become better and better adapted to
living in the jungles and swamps of
On another Indonesian island, the very
small Island of Flores evolved a very
unique and interesting human specie which
is called by scientists Homo
This means, you can probably now guess it
by yourself, man from Flores Island,
because this is where this species lived,
on Flores Island.
Now the unique thing about these humans,
about Homo floresiensis is that they were
dwarfs, they were very very small.
Eh, what happened is, that Flores used to
be connected to the mainland eh, by, by
land, and at some time, the sea levels
rose, the ocean rose, and Flores was
disconnected from the mainland.
And some people who walked over the land
to, to Flores, they got stuck on this
island when the, when the sea level rose.
And Flores is a small island and there is
not much to eat on, on such a small
So the big people died first the big
people need a lot of food, you know, to
survive, so they died first.
And smaller people who need less food eh,
in order to survive, they managed to
And this happened generation after
generation, the smallest people had the
best chances of having enough food and
and and, keeping themselves alive.
So over the years, the people who got
stuck on Flores Island became smaller,
and smaller, and smaller, until they
And it's estimated, according to the
bones that scientists have found that
Homo floresiensis reached a maximum
height of no more than one meter and the
maximum weight of 25 kilograms.
Nevertheless, these tiny people, they
still were humans.
They're still able to manufacture and use
all kinds of tools like spears and so
They even managed, at least from time to
time, to hunt elephants.
Now, it wasn't very big elephants, it was
also dwarf elephants, because also,
elephants that got stuck on Flores Island
the same thing that happened to humans,
happened also to the elephants.
And they became smaller and smaller and
smaller until I, I, Flores was populated
by eh, tiny people hunting tiny
elephants, so this is Flores.
255 While this was happening in the tiny island of Flores, in the big open
256 of Asia, evolved a different human specie, which is called by scientists,
257 Homo erectus. Homo erectus means upright man because
258 this man, these people [sic: were eh, very tall - he should have said:
walked erect] .
259 They were taller than us reaching heights of 1.8 and even 1.9 meters tall.
260 Another important fact about Homo erectus is that it was probably the most
261 successful human species ever in terms of how many years it managed to
262 Homo erectus first appeared about, first evolved about 1.5 million years ago
263 survived until about 50,000 years ago. So Homo erectus, this specie existed
264 close to 1 and a half million years, in contrast, our species, Homo sapeins,
265 began to evolve maybe 300,000, 200,000 years ago.
266 We [have existed] only about 200 to 300 thousand years. And it is very
unlikely that we would
267 break the record of Homo erectus, it's very unlikely, that our species would
268 manage to live for more than 1 and a half million years.
269 In fact, as it would seem in the last lesson of this course, which we will
270 discuss in the future, it is doubt, it is doubtful if we have managed to
271 even a 1000 years, so what to speak of a million and a half years.
272 So this is Homo erectus. In 2010, scientists discovered the
273 remains of another lost brother or lost sister when they excavated the
274 cave in, in Russia, in eastern Russia. So archaeologists excavating the
275 they made eh, amazing find, amazing discovery.
276 They found there a finger, or not a finger, the found the fossilized bone of
277 a human finger and they managed to extract DNA from this fossilized bone and
278 to map it to see what kind of DNA was, was inside and they compared the DNA
279 the finger of Denisova cave to the DNA of all other known human species and
280 didn't match. So they came to the conclusion, based
281 just on this single finger that previously, there existed, at least in
282 central Asia, another specie of humans, which they now called Homo denisova,
283 from the Denisova Cave. Which was different from the Neanderthals
284 and Homo erectus and and all the rest, so this is Homo denisova.
285 Who knows how many other ancient human species existed in the past and are
286 waiting to be discovered in all kinds of caves and remote islands?
287 We don't know for sure. When all this was happening in Europe and
288 Asia, evolution in East Africa, where humans first emerged did not stop.
289 Evolution continued, natural selection continued to put pressure on humans
290 east Africa which resulted in the evolution of more, and more human species
291 also in Africa. We have, for example, Homo rudolfensis.
292 Men from Lake Rudolph, whose remains were found near, near Lake Rudolph.
293 We have Homo ergaster, which means working men, because archaeologists
294 discovered alongside the bones of this species, also many, many tools made
295 these ancient humans, so they called them working men as if they just went
296 making tools, stone tools all the time. And eventually, our own species,
297 sapiens, also appeared in east Africa, about 200,000 or 300,000 eh, years
298 You don't need to remember the names and details, as I said, of all these
299 different human species. What is important, however, is to realize
300 how they are related to one another or the general picture that, this is
301 correct. What is important is to understand the
302 general picture of the human family. And the general picture of the human
303 family is that there are many human species and not just one.
304 Some of these species were massive, very big, like Homo erectus and the
305 Neanderthals. Others were dwarfs like Homo
306 floresiensis. Some human species were fearsome hunters.
307 Subsisting mainly by hunting animals. Other human species lived mainly by
308 guttering plants, they are vegetarians. Some human species lived on a single
309 island, like Flores Island or Java Island.
310 Other human species roamed over entire continents, like Homo erectus or Homo
311 denisova, but all of these different human species belong to the genus Homo.
312 They are all human beings. They are all part of the human family.
313 Now, many people have heard that once upon a time there were all kinds of
314 species on planet Earth. However, we often tend to mistakenly
315 arrange these different species in a straight line of descent.
316 As if we have Homo ergaster that slowly evolved into Homo erectus and then
317 erectus slowly evolved into the Neanderthal and the neanderthals evolved
318 into us. According to this linear model of human
319 evolution at any particular moment in time, there was only one type of human
320 specie inhabiting planet Earth and all previous species of humans were just
321 older models of ourselves. They evolved eventually to become us, but
322 the truth is different. The truth is that from about 2 million
323 years ago until about 10,000 years ago, that world was home at one in the
324 time to several human species simultaneously and why not?
325 Today, there are many different species of pigs in the world, there are many
326 different species of foxes. There are many different species of
327 bears, like you have you have grizzly bears, and you have Arctic bears, and
328 have brown bears, and you have black bear.
329 Bears all living together at the same time on planet Earth.
330 So, 100,000 years ago, there were at least six different species of humans
331 living side by side on planet Earth. We know for sure about six, there might
332 have been eh, many more. And this should not surprise us, that in
333 different part of the world, there are different human species at the same
334 What is surprising, what is strange, is the current situation that in all
335 world, there is just one human specie, our specie.
336 You go to Europe. You go to India.
337 You go to China. You go to Australia.
338 You go to America. Everywhere, you encounter just one
339 specie, our specie, Homo sapiens. This is very strange and actually it's a
340 bit suspicious. As we shall shortly see in the next
341 segments of this lesson, Homo sapiens has pretty good reasons to hide the
342 forget the fact, that it once had brothers and sisters.
343 Because there is some evidence that we, Homo sapiens, had a hand in the
344 disappearance of all the other human species.
345 What exactly happened to the other human species and what we Homo sapiens
346 done to them will be discussed in the next segment of this lesson.