Modern humans have been in the making for over 500 million years.
Back then, vertebrates (animals with a spinal cord or backbone) were the new kids on Earth. Over a long, long time, those early vertebrates gradually evolved into the wildly diverse species with backbones we see all over the world today, including humans.
This animation on Hashem AL-ghalili’s YouTube Channel, using graphics adopted from a Dutch picture book, starts with modern humans and condenses the 550 million years of evolution from our earliest ancestors into less than a minute.
The first part, depicting humans evolving from great apes, looks pretty familiar:
Things don’t look so familiar once the animation gets back to the earliest mammals. Further back than that, we see a type of animal called amniotes that laid eggs and were the ancestors of reptiles, birds, and mammals (including humans).
Even before that, around 360 million years ago, acanthostega was one of the first animals that had four legs, fingers, and toes (though it probably lived in shallow water, not on land).
Rewinding again, the animation shows acanthostega coming from lobe-finned fish called sarcopterygii (that had fins with bones and muscles). The rapid backwards journey ends with two little wriggling worms, representing the first existing animals.
It’s all a reminder that humans have had a long odyssey to get where we are today.
Watch the whole, continuous story of how we got here:
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