This space rock we call Earth has been around for over 4.6 billion years. During all those eons, thousands, maybe millions of different species had gone extinct, including some of our cousins and direct ancestors like the “working man” (Homo ergaster) and “handy man” (Homo habilis), to name a couple. You may not know that the first modern humans (Homo sapiens) appeared between 400,000 and 250,000 years ago. At that time we didn’t have much competition, only some Neanderthals here and there, which probably helped us survive and develop our cognitive skills instead of using brute force on everything.
Anyway, none of the other humans from the Homo genus survived this arduous journey, leaving the Homo sapiens in charge of the planet. So here are top 7 extinct human species.
1. Homo georgicus
This “link species” between Homo habilis and Homo erectus was found Georgia in 1999 and is believed to be at least 1.8 million years old. Their skulls were quite tiny, but who needs brains when you got brawn! These homies settled in Europe around 800,000 years ago.
2. Homo ergaster (“working man”)
Let’s travel to South-East Africa now, 1.9-1.4 million years BC. The “working man” was a lot like H. erectus, but with some distinct differences in the skull structure and the brain size. They used stone axes and probably figured out how to make fire long before the others.
3. Homo rudolfensis
In 2007 a 1.9 million-year-old skull washed ashore near Lake Rudolf in Kenya. Only a single remnant of this species has been found so far, and according to the scientists it was more of a smart ape than a human.
4. Homo antecessor
One of our first European ancestors settled across the continent from Spain to Georgia 1.2 million to 700,000 years ago. Their large brains (over 1000 cc) helped them out tremendously during their reign in Europe.
5. Homo habilis (“handy man”)
Many researchers believe that Homo habilis, who lived 2.5 to 1.8 million years ago, could have been the first species of the Homo genus to ever appear. Allegedly, they were the first species to use stone tools, but those were mostly used for cutting meat of a dead animal, rather than hunting or self-defense.
6. The Neanderthal (Homo neanderthalensis)
The big boys are here! Their remains were found all over Europe and western Asia. Neanderthals were still roaming the land not so long ago, about 24,000 years, and first appeared 130,000 years ago. And since our direct ancestors were living their lives, and having these wide-nosed brutes as neighbors, there was definitely some DNA mixing going on. They could probably even speak in words and sentences, play flutes made out of bear femurs, and some researchers even say that they buries their dead. Knowing us humans, we probably saw what the big boys were doing and started doing it ourselves, but more efficiently.
7. Homo sapiens idaltu (“elderly wise man”)
Another more recently extinct subspecies of Homo sapiens – H. sapiens idaltu – settled in Africa 160,000 years ago. With brain capacity comparable to a modern human, these homies were most likely our direct ancestors. Following them were the first H. sapiens sapiens – Khoisan (today’s Bushmen), who appeared around 110,000 y.a. in Eastern Africa.