Evolving people

Early human remains have been discovered in Europe dating back to over seven million years.  This may be stretching a point.  They are the remains of an ape-like creature with human-like teeth found in both Bulgaria and Greece yet the inference is enormous.  This discovery turns our current thinking of human evolution on its head.  Whatever the creature looked like, now known as Graecopithecus freybergi, it represents a forerunner of our own species.  It was a protohuman.

What makes this discovery so intersting is that it puts our ancestors in Europe two hundred thousand years before the evolution of hominids in Africa.  Common wisdom is that proto humans arose in Africa before migrating through the middle east and eventually populated every continent on Earth, except Antarctica.  

Once again, common wisdom has come under scrutiny.  Everything that we have ever been taught, but especially that with an historical context, is open to questioning.  As science and technology improves, the boundaries of our understanding get pushed further and further back.

This seemingly small discovery has enormous ramifications for the way that we, and in particular Europeans, see our positions in the world.  We wrote the history and we did the science.  We wrote it from our own perspective and created world history in our own image.

What fascinates me however is the effect that this discovery has upon our own behaviour.  We think that we are a modern species, at the top of our game and in control of our own destiny yet this discovery shows that we have been even longer in the making than we used to think.  Seven million years is a huge length of time for our cultures, our reactions and our thoughts to develop.  Human evolution has a long history.

We should take this discovery as an opportunity to reflect on what we really know about ourselves and how much we have actually moved on from our earliest ancestors.

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