(Return to GatewayforIndia - Tourism)
INDIA… IN THE VERY BEGINNING - How the Indian Subcontinent
Early Man takes a Stand
About 5 million years
ago, even as these animals were evolving on the Indo-Gangetic plains, a
creature of far more importance (to us) was struggling to rise in the
jungles of primitive Africa. For mankind, the greatest break-through came
when, some of the apes in the region, learned to stand erect.
In 1974, a scientific
expedition in Ethiopia, discovered the bones of a creature that had lived
4 million years ago. The creature was more ape, than man, in appearance;
but it had one distinguishing feature (recognized from the bones of the
knee joint) -- it had learnt to walk erect, with fully straightened legs.
The creature was classified as Australopithecus afarensis. Since
the skeleton belonged to a female, it was nicknamed "Lucy". This became
the famous "missing link" between ape and man.
One and a half million
years ago, homo erectus evolved. He was the first primate to look
anything like modern man. Over thousands of years, his skull size had
increased, till he had the brain size of a modern four-year old. He was
also the first creature to use fire and create sophisticated tools.
Homo erectus was a great traveler. He formed groups or clans. These
clans, using their ancient tools, weapons and fire, explored new hunting
grounds, during the 1 million years, when they were the Masters of this
His clans spread, from
Africa to the Middle East -- then to China, Europe and (using the land
bridges that existed in those times) all the way to the Pacific.