The following list of hominid species is not meant to be an evolutionary background to the present-day Homo sapiens sapiens. Many hominid species were offshoots of the same evolutionary branch - cousins, if you will.

Australopithecus ramidus - 5 to 4 million years BCE
In 1995, anthopologists discovered the remains of a new homonid species in Ethopia they dubbed A. ramidus, possibly an ancestor of A. afarensis. The A. ramidus skull has teeth that are more chimp-like than those of A. afarensis. Scholars are currently disputing whether it was a biped, and some have suggested a new genus name - Ardipithicus - for this species.

Australopithecus afarensis - 4 to 2.7 million years BCE
A. afaransis - of "Lucy" fame - is classified as an ape, not a human, but it is considered to be a hominid. "Lucy" was discovered in Ethopia in 1972, and she is a remarkably complete skeleton. "Lucy" resembles a chimpanzee in size, shape, and skull structure, but she did stand upright, making her a hominid.

Australopithecus africanus - 3.0 to 2.0 million years BCE
A. africanus was the first early hominid to be discovered, in 1924. Only a skull has been found so far. The teeth are apelike, and the position of the foramen magnum marks this species as a biped.

Australopithecus robustus - 2.2 to 1.0 million years BCE
A. robustus was not an ancestor of humans; rather, it was one of the side-branches that developed. Their huge skulls and teeth mark them as vegetarians.

Homo habilis - 2.2 to 1.6 million years BCE
H. habilis shows a marked increase in brain size over previous hominid species. It lived on the African savannah and made tools out of stone and bones.

Homo erectus -2 to 0.4 million years BCE
H. erectus had a brain about the size of a modern human's brain, but it was configured differently. It marks the complete adaption of hominids to bipedalism. H. erectus showed the remarkable ability to actually design tools, and may have been the first to use fire.

Homo sapiens - 400,000 to 200,000 years BCE
The most complete H. sapiens skull found to date is from Greece, and other early skulls have been found in Germany and Asia. This was the earliest form of our own species.

Homo sapiens neandertalensis - 200,000 to 30,000 years BCE
The Neandertal was another "cousin" of ours, not a direct ancestor of H. sapiens sapiens. They lived in Europe and Western Asia alongside H. sapiens sapiens.

Homo sapiens sapiens - 130,000 years BCE to present
Hey! That's us!

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