When the dinosaur extinction-level event happened, most living organisms were wiped out. A long time passed by before mammals appeared, and then much later humans. But with such an impact on the earth, how exactly did humans survive the dinosaur extinction? How did life continue when most organisms were killed?
Let’s take a look in this interesting article. While humans weren’t around when dinosaurs became extinct, it’s still fascinating to see how we came about.
The Current Cenozoic Era: Age of Mammals
There’s a period between dinosaurs’ extinction and modern humans’ appearance. This period is called the Cenozoic Era: Age of Mammals, which lasted from 65 million years ago to the present day. During this time, mammals appeared, evolved, and diversified.
The first primates appeared during the early Cenozoic Era. Primates include monkeys and apes. They’re closely related to other mammals such as dogs, cats, and bears.
The first human ancestors evolved about 7 million years ago in Africa during this period. These creatures were similar to apes but walked upright on two feet instead of four feet like apes do today. Scientists call these creatures hominins because they lived in Africa before modern humans (homo sapiens).
The earliest hominins were Australopithecus afarensis, which means “southern ape from Afar.” These creatures first appeared 4 million years ago in East Africa’s Rift Valley region (Ethiopia today). Their brains were only one-third the size of our brains today. By 2 million years ago, they had become more like us; their brains were getting more significant.
How Was Human Culture Born
Our ability to think symbolically allows us to create language, art, and complex societies. Looking at human evolution from an evolutionary framework shows us how these traits developed over time through natural selection.
The domestication of animals and plants for use as food is arguably the most crucial development in human history. Without it, there would be no towns, no metallurgy, no organized religions, and no complex calendars.
Moderate climate fluctuations over the next 20 million years allowed mammals to thrive. They diversified into many forms, from tiny tree-dwelling creatures to grazing animals resembling camels to massive creatures like “Brontotherium,” which looked like a hornless rhinoceros.
The global climate has become warmer, with high amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Global warming caused increased plant growth around the globe, and huge forests covered much of North America and Europe, as well as other areas around the world.
As temperatures fluctuated between warmer and colder periods, mammals migrated into new parts of the world as forests spread northward and retreated southward. By 10 million years ago, placental mammals had colonized most areas except Antarctica.
How Did Humans Survive and Become Dominant?
Humans were hunters and scavengers who ate other animals or plants to survive. They began using tools and weapons (like stone axes) for hunting food more effectively than their competitors, such as bears and wolves, could do so simply with their teeth or claws alone.
Similarly, lions can still hunt gazelles but would be outmatched by hyenas if not for their sharp teeth. In other words, humans could compete with other species because of their ability to adapt quickly and use technology.
We adapted to our surroundings and the planet’s changing climate because of the rapid evolution of our brains, which allowed us to develop new kinds of tools. The ability to build an intelligent society made us a success.
We can be thankful that our apelike ancestors survived to evolve into modern-day humans. They survived thanks to the development of walking and toolmaking skills. The continent of Europe, the Indus Valley, China, the Americas, and other warmer areas. Those that came later developed consistently more robust technology and language skills. We are the Earth’s reigning species.