What Happened Before History? Human Origins

What Happened Before History? Human Origins


The world we live in feels normal, ordinary. It feels like this is just how humans exist and always existed. But, it’s not. Never before have we humans lived in a world as sophisticated and engineered to our needs as today. Giving us the luxury to forget about ourselves and not worry about survival. Food, shelter, security – all of this is, more or less, taken for granted. But we’re a special few; for more than 99.99% of human history, life was completely different. And there’s no such thing as just one human history. Our story begins 6 million years ago, when the tribe of hominini split and our relationship with the apes ended. 2.8 million years ago, the genus of homo, the first humans, emerged. We like to think about ourselves as the only humans, but this is far from the truth. When we, homo sapiens sapiens, came into existence 200,000 years ago, there were at least six other human species around. Cousins of comparable intelligence and ability, which must have been incredibly scary, kind of like living with aliens. Some of them were very successful. Homo erectus, for example, survived for 2 million years. Ten times longer than modern humans have existed. The last of the other humans disappeared around 10,000 years ago. We don’t know what caused them to die out. Modern humans have at least a few percent of neanderthal and other human DNA, so there was some mixing, but certainly not enough to be a merger between species. So we don’t know if our cousins went away because they lost the battle over resources, or because of a series of minor genocides. Either way, only we remain. Back to the beginnings of humanity. 2.8 million years ago, early humans used tools, but did not make a lot of progress for nearly 2 million years. Until they learned to control fire. Fire meant cooking, which made food more nutritious, which contributed to the development of our brain. It also produced light and warmth, which made days longer and winters less gruesome. On top of that, it not only scared predators away, it could also be used for hunting. A torched wood or grassland provided small animals, nuts and tubers that were pre-roasted. From 300,000 years ago, most of the different human species lived in small hunter-gatherer societies. They had fire, wood and stone tools, planned for the future, buried their dead, and had cultures of their own. But most importantly, they spoke to each other. Probably in a kind of proto-language, less complex than ours. If we had a time machine, how far would we be able to go back, steal a few babies and raise them today without anyone noticing that they’re a bit different? There is much debate. Anatomically, modern humans emerged 200,000 years ago, but probably 70,000 years is as far as we could travel back and still snatch a behaviourally modern human. Before that, the babies would probably lack a few crucial gene mutations Necessary to build a brain with modern language and abstract thinking abilities. At some point, around 50,000 years ago, there was an explosion in innovation. Tools and weapons became more sophisticated and culture became more complex, because at this point, humans had a multi-purpose brain, and a more advanced language to communicate information with each other effectively, and down to the last detail. This allowed much closer cooperation, and is what really makes us different from any other creature on Earth. Not our comparatively weak bodies and inferior senses, but the ability to cooperate flexibly in large groups, unlike, for example, rigid beehives or intimate, but tiny wolf packs. As our brain evolved, we became able to do something, life had been unable to do up to this point. One – expand knowledge quickly. Two – preserve the knowledge gained over generations. Three – build on past knowledge, to gain even deeper insight. This seems daft, but until then, information had to be passed on from generation to generation, mostly through genetics, which is not efficient. Still, for the next 40,000 years, human life remained more or less the same. There was little to build upon. Our ancestors were only one animal among many. Building a skyscraper without knowing what a house is… is hard. But while it is easy to be arrogant in our attitude to our ancestors, this would be ignorant. Humans 50,000 years ago were survival specialists. They had a detailed mental map of their territory, their senses were fine-tuned to the environment, they knew and memorized a great amount of information about plants and animals. They could make complicated tools that required years of careful training and very fine motor skills Their bodies compared to our athletes today just because of their daily routines, and they lived a rich social life within their tribe Survival required so many skills that the average brain volume of early modern humans might even have been bigger than it is today As a group we know more today, but as individuals our ancestors were superior to us But then around 12,000 years ago, in multiple locations, humans developed agriculture. Everything changed very quickly. Before, survival as a hunter and forager required superb physical and mental abilities in all fields from everybody With the rise of the agricultural age, individuals could increasingly rely on the skills of others for survival. This meant that some of them could specialize. Maybe they worked on better tools, maybe they took time to breed more resistant crops or better livestock, Maybe they started inventing things. As farming got more and more efficient, what we call civilization began Agriculture gave us a reliable and predictable food source, which allowed humans to hoard food on a large scale for the first time, which is much easier to do with grains than meat, The food stock required protection, which led to communities living together in tighter spaces First, early defense structures were built, the need for organization grew The more organized we got, the faster things became efficient Villages became cities, cities became kingdoms, kingdoms became empires Connections between humans exploded which led to opportunities to exchange knowledge Progress became exponential About 500 years ago the Scientific Revolution began Mathematics, Physics, Astronomy, Biology, and Chemistry transformed everything we thought we knew The Industrial Revolution followed soon after laying the foundation for the modern world As our overall efficiency grew exponentially, more people could spend their lifetime contributing to the progress of humanity Revolutions kept happening. The invention of the computer, its evolution into a medium we all use on a daily basis, and the rise of the Internet shaped our world It’s hard to grasp how fast all of that happened It’s been about 125,000 generations since the emergence of the first human species About 7,500 generations since the physiologically modern humans saw the light of day 500 generations ago, what we call civilization began 20 generations ago, we learned how to do science And the Internet became available to most people only one generation ago Today we live in the most prosperous age humanity has ever experienced We have transformed this planet, from the composition of its atmosphere to large-scale changes in its landscape and also in terms of the other animals in existence. We light up the night with artificial stars and put people in a metal box in the sky Some have even walked on our Moon We put robots on other planets We’ve looked deep into the past of the universe with mechanical eyes Our knowledge and our way of acquiring and storing more of it has exploded The average high school student today knows more about the universe than a scholar a few centuries ago Humans dominate this planet, even if our rule is very fragile We are still not that different from our ancestors 70,000 years ago But your lifestyle has existed for less than 0.001% of human history From here on, there’s no saying what the future holds for us We’re building a skyscraper, but we’re not sure if it’s standing on a solid foundation or if we’re building it on quicksand Let’s leave it with that for now The next time you miss your train, your burger is not hot enough, or someone cuts in line Remember how special this made-up human world is Maybe it’s not worth being upset about all those little things. This video was supported by audible.com/nutshell In the making of it, we used the book “Sapiens: a brief history of humankind” as one of the major sources. If you want to get to it, or any other for free and support us, go to audible.com/nutshell and get a free 30-day trial It’s so hard to read books when you have the internet, so we can at least listen to them In general, we listen to a lot of audiobooks while designing our videos, so we can highly recommend audible OK, so this was our first take on making a history-related video we’d love to make much more of them, but they take even more time than our average video. So we might do 3 or 4 a year. Your feedback’s very welcome here Thank you so much for watching,
and if you want to support us directly, you can do so on Patreon. It really helps us out. While you think about it, here are more videos, if you need more distraction.

100 Replies to “What Happened Before History? Human Origins”

  1. I’m here on my phone and thinking to myself like wtf would I b doing at this very moment if I was born 3 to 5 centuries ago or even 60 yes ago without a cellphone etc…

  2. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari, for anyone who wants a witty and fun yet more detailed information on this topic

  3. this video lowkey just made me realize that the way humans have been evolving is because we have been thinking up ways to make our lives easier because we felt like being lazy, so in other words the lazier we become the more we advance, flying cars just you wait ill make sure to be doing nothing other than sleep all day so you can get here as quickly as possible.

  4. I feel grateful to our ancestors after watching this. Like I want to thank them for getting us to this point. Life must've been hard for early humans and I want them to know what we've accomplished thanks to their sacrifice and being born at the beginning of our evolution as opposed to the lucrative lives we live today.

  5. 9:04 The problem is that if you miss your train, you can get fired and all other things and new problems that this modern lifestyle has (and our ancestors didn't). Stress, economic crisis, nuclear war, crime, depression, anxiety, etc.

  6. These videos about humanity and space and universe have been really good for my mental health. Thank you!

  7. these types of videos are always eurocentric in view. this is why i dont support the notion of "human story".
    just be honest and say you are speaking for your own. this is not the story of MY ancestors.

  8. "maybe its not worth being upset about all those little things". kids die everyday of cancer because our neanderthalic leaders would rather flex how many warheads they have than allocate any of our human intelligence and resources to medical science. "Little things" like that, right? We should just be grateful. Grateful that, if you don't have enough money, you will die, all the while under the watchful eyes of a medical professional. And it doesn't matter if you're a child or even if you were a 9-11 responder, if you don't have money, your life means aboslutely NOTHING to your tribe leaders. At least 10k years ago I could have caved in the tribe leader's head with a rock tied to a stick and made some new rules. No no people, be grateful for your prison. Doesn't anyone find it frustrating that the only place you hear about stem cells and CRISPR and bacteriophages is from a Youtube network based out of Germany? Kurzgesagt, I like your videos, but your writers sound like a bunch Jerry Smiths. Some other "little things": • your video on processed meats and the fact that the poison that is killing us is still being heavily marketed towards men women and children. • countless upon countless instances of dangerous, cancer causing, and birth defect causing chemicals being regularily integrated into our food and personal care products, by way of negligence and in the name of profit, and/or under a disgusting intentional pretense (but hopefully not the latter). • 9-11, building 7, and a bunch of people that didn't feel the convenience of the modern world as they jumped from the 30th floor of a burning building in order to kill themselves more efficiently than smoke inhalation. • the knowledge that those events may have been in the interest of money and perpetrated by the US government. • The alcohol poisoning campaign that brutally ended the lives of tens of thousands of people drinking at speak-easys(google it). • other numberous false flag operations that have ended in the death of numerous innocent lives. • hitler (that ones on you kurz). • the perpetuated stigma that, in this country, it is "honorable" and "dutiful" to sign up for the military and go kill other people's daughters and sons and mothers and fathers (home of the brave!!). We have convieniences, but we still live in a hell that we have made

    In the light of all these things, one might even assume a shorter, more rugged life (similiar to that of a tribalistic early human) could lead to a deeper happiness and state of mental healthiness. You could even wager that an early human might live a longer, healthier life, eating more pure and less processed foods, (organic by default). But then there's infection and the lack of antibiotics and all that. And evidence that they actually did not live as long as us.

    Maybe kurzgesagt should do a video on all the fucked up things that wealthy people in power are doing, and what would be a viable solution for the human race

  9. I'd like to see Richard Dawkin's Memes brought up here to explain why early humans started to pass along information to one another. This replication is key to our survival.

  10. one thing still remains solid…before the first human touched tools, before all the hunting and development, they had a original diet. which is a plant based/fruitarian diet. We, homo sapiens forgot that we are a RACE OF A SPECIES. We invented tool to do good, not to do bad. but when bad is being bad tools help. we need to go back to 2 billion world population as the cap limit.

  11. disappointing how you didnt mention we might go back even further than we thought, check out Joe Rogan's podcast with Graham Hancock

  12. I’d rather plant my own stuff than eat genetically modified food that can kill a section of the most important kind of people

    Nope imma live longer

  13. "Today we live in the most advanced civilization humans have ever known" Funny how all generations could have said that at one point.


  14. Empires become countries
    Countries become continents
    Continents became planets
    Planets became solar systems
    Solar systems become galaxies
    Galaxies become universes
    Universes bccome multiuniverses
    Uhh… hmm

  15. Instead of just getting sponsored by audible, you guys should really consider making some audio books, I'd PAY to listen to them on my while going to bed or while on the bus to school

  16. It is a real good book. I also recommend it. "Sapiens, a brief history of Humankind" from Yuval Noah Harari. 💪

  17. And then about 300 years ago, with all of our modern free time we invented religion. It was the concept that there is a creator greater than yourself but yet you are still part of it. Today we call it Social Media.

  18. Kurzgesagt: We don't know what the future holds.
    Also Kurtgesagt: Def blimps with a lower level with whale sanctuaries.

  19. Nope apes isnt our first parents its adan and eve god made them could you imagine ape ivolve into humans impossible

  20. Just had a co worker ask me to explain why monkeys are still around if they all eventually evolve into humans!
    Asked me very indignantly, like she was shattering the whole concept of evolution with that question.
    Lol
    I told her that primates (not just monkeys) are like cousins of humans. Distance ancestors.
    For a visual I told her that a house cat doesn't evolve into a lion! But they are both felines.
    Oh….

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