Top 10 Greatest Events that Shaped Human Evolution – Journey from Apes to Aliens

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In this article I would like to mention the 10 greatest events that changed the way humans stood out among all the animals which lived on earth. The initial few crucial events takes us back into history a bit, but we can not crawl ahead without making a mention of these life-changing events.

About 3 million years ago, the species ‘Homo-erectus’, which were our forefathers – evolved from apes, lived a distinct life somewhere in Africa. It was distinct from all other animals as the first animal to stand on two legs in erect position and that’s why the name Homo-erectus (though, apes too stood on two feet, but they moved on all fours for most part of their life).

For almost 2 million years they lived the same life with out any evolution. Then came the first important event in their life – the Fire, well it’s not an invention exactly but the species learned ‘how to use fire’.

1. FIRE : 800,000 years back

fire

The species Homo-erectus realized the potential of fire. A controlled fire gave three benefits:

  • Light during night, which drove away the fear of unknown from nearby bushes.
  • Heat, a luxury at that time during cold winters in caves.
  • A source to cook food. Until then they were just foraging grass, roots, flowers, fruits and from time to time small animals in raw form.

The cooked food changed the species altogether. The cooked food was soft, more readily digestible, meaning no need to have strong teeth (K9s). Their teeth reduced in size compared to apes, changed the shape of jaw line, thereby changing the shape of the skull. More room for brain means more intelligence, changed jaw line means the ability to make many types of noises which later evolved into crude form of language.

2. LANGUAGE : 50,000 to 100,000 years back

laguage

Before Language could be developed, the Homo-erectus had no chance of gaining knowledge from their forefathers. The knowledge was limited to what they observe their parents do and imitate. With language, the knowledge has a means to travel from generation to generation. In comparison, other animals could not gain knowledge from their forefathers. The people who lived in that period were called Homo-sapiens.

3. WHEEL : 5,000 to 6,000 years back

WHeel

By the time Wheel was invented the present day forefathers of Humans arrived. They were carrying all the material on either their back or the back of animals. When they observed the rolling logs, they saw the potential and invented the Wheel. Wheel represented a transformation from how you carry your load. It changed the mode from dragging to passing. Different types of uses were invented. Some logs were arranged in series and the heavy blocks were just rolled over them. Later with the invention of a spoke, the modern day wheel arrived. The invention of wheel made pyramids, huge forts on mountains possible.

4. PAPER : 2,000 to 3,000 years back

paper

Paper changed the way Humans record things better from cave paintings. When I say paper- its not literally paper. It represents recording anything for the future generations to study. Egyptians used to record on stones, Mesopotamians used to record on tablets made of mud, Indians used to record on palm leaves. There is still a debate on to where the literal paper was invented. Some say it was in Rome. Romans used the plant called Papyrus to make paper and so the name paper. Some say it was in China that paper was invented. Chinese used Bamboo to make paper.

5. GUNPOWDER : 1,000 years back

gunpowder

Well, all inventions which changed the human life may not have to be positive. The invention of Gunpowder used to explode material changed the way civilizations existed. It made impregnable forts to collapse. For 3 million years wars meant hand to hand fights. Gunpowder suddenly changed the concept. Here we are not discussing who fought who. The fight was no more about who is the strongest physically in war. A old man also can shoot down the mighty warrior, if he has skill to use gunpowder. The essence is Gunpowder made aggressive races with knowledge of Gunpowder (in the form of guns, artillery) dominate over subtle races.

Now, we come to the modern times which also saw some inventions which changed the way of life.

6. STEAM ENGINE : 235 years back

steam Engine

Steam engine as the name suggests does not make the cut as the greatest invention in itself, unless we understand what it stands for. Steam Engine heralded the Industrial revolution. Before that all energy used to make a civil society was purely from human labor or animal energy (that’s why it’s called horse power). Steam engine made it possible that while we relax, energy sources (coal, wood and oil in those days) can give us energy to do anything we do. Everything changed after that. You can now mention automobiles, industry, steam ships were made possible.

7. ELECTRICITY : 130 years back

Electricity

A modern human truly arrived with the invention of Electricity. It changed the Human life forever. It made humans do things during night which was unimaginable before that. Cities were electrified, industry was driven on electricity. All the later inventions, be it radio, TV, computer and satellites and all the machines you can imagine run on electricity.

8. INTERNET : 15 years back

internet

We are fortunate that we are witnessing one of the greatest inventions of mankind in its 1 million years of history during our life time. With the advent of Internet the world suddenly shrunk. An ordinary human can get access to any data sitting at his home on internet. This may seem normal to people who grew up used to the facilities, but just a few centuries back it was impossible to have such knowledge at finger tips even to greatest kings and emperors.

Now, we move forward to the two future inventions which may make our Human race a completely evolved species that existed in universe.

You may debate about some more inventions but the fact remains that they will be modifications to the greatest inventions.

9. SPACE TRAVEL : xxx years in future

space-travel

We may be proud of Neil Armstrong as the first man who set foot on earth, same way the first Homo-erectus was proud of the first one who walked on two feet. Our setting foot on Moon is nothing compared to the vast amount of unfinished business. We may think of travelling to Mars as the next great things.

Unless we travel beyond stars, we can not call them great inventions. This requires speed of travel. At present the fastest known speed is that of light. If we attain the speed of light we may take few hours to reach the farthest plant in our solar system, Pluto.

Even if we want to travel to the nearest star (other than our Sun), Proxima Centauri, it takes 76 years at the speed of light. Unless somebody comes up with a radical and rather crazy idea to break out of the speed of light, we can not cross our planetary system in one life time. Our planetary system is a mere spec in the whole universe. Unless we cross our spec, we don’t reach to other solar systems.

On a lighter note, the only proven thing that moves faster than light is rumor but unfortunately with the existing technology, we can not fuel our space ships with rumor :)

10. FACING OTHER SPECIES FROM OTHER SOLAR SYSTEMS : xxx,xxx years in future

aliens

Without invention No.9, we can not seriously think of achieving the ultimate i.e., coming face-to-face with other alien species. After invention of mode of travel at speeds exceeding speed of light, we may move out of our cocoon and may explore other bodies of matter in space (like explorers in 15th century did in great oceans) and check trillions of planets before we come across species of intelligence.

Some say intelligence on other planets; in other solar systems of other galaxies in other milky ways, already exist. It is also not a must that those aliens gathered intelligence along with us, it may have already evolved billions of years back. The proofs they show are the flying saucers and say the intelligence from outer space has travelled many places before reaching planet earth. They also argue that may be flying saucers arriving on earth from billions of years.

Anyway coming to the point, when we achieve the ultimate (of meeting with other intelligence) we have completed all the greatest inventions / achievements possible for a humble species that is called Human.

If you have gone through the pain of reading this lengthy article, please spare a thought and provide your valuable comment.

"Top 10 Greatest Events that Shaped Human Evolution - Journey from Apes to Aliens", 5 out of 5 based on 1 ratings.
  1. Anonymous says

    Soon, w population expanding and fossil fuels depleting, there will be nothing left to burn, thus fire, the 1st big discovery, will be lost, Man will consume everything including seeds for regeneration, mass homocide will kill half off, a virus will finish the job. Space travel is like nonsense like the idea of God, the sun will burn out, end of story, but in a zillion years, who knows? Man was not evolution's greatest achievement, geckos were.

  2. joyce says

    its a gud coplication but i wud luv 2 knw mre abt the “evolution of money from modern times till now ” a little more in detail……

  3. achu says

    A wonderful compilation. Superb.

    Although, in a lighter note, how far points 9 and 10 will be credible [considering the speed of light and all] is really a question mark, and any theoretical possibility, may not be hugely welcome, as you see, it may remain theoretical…

    Cool one…

  4. Shebeeb says

    I don’t think there will be an alien, because if something like that happen THEN…………………

  5. mudit kalra says

    Great article … but as sriram said you missed on a very imp topic :D

  6. Viral says

    Firstly, thanks to all for your valuable comments.

    @ Apu, you are right. What I meant to say was not that homo-erectus remained without evolution for 2 million years. He definitely was evolving but what I meant to say was until he found the uses of fire, there was nothing of any interest to mention about his evolution.

    @ Himanshu, My writing is expression of a wishful thinking that we have to cross speed of light not by multiples of 2 or 3 but into 100s of times if we ever wish to cross galaxies in a single life time. What I meant was the mode of transport should be invented, developed to make mass transport possible so that every one uses it like present day modes like bus, train, ship, planes. Like in 15th century explorers discovered new lands after which millions crossed oceans to go there. Same way, if the teams of space explorers discover inhabitable lands out there among galaxies, the others should be able to go there.”

    @ Sriram Vadlamani, Thanks for your comment. Reality show… wow, what an idea, Sir ji :)

    @ Dev, Even if those two inventions takes place in this era, it won’t be as cost-effective to drive an ordinary person into the space.

    @ Barry, I agree with you, tools is indeed an important invention. But, somewhere down the line, Gunpowder aspect mentioned by me is remotely related to tools and weapons. So, didn’t go too deep into stone as a weapon or even a tool.

    @ Madhav, Your point well taken regarding non-inclusion of ‘zero’. But, somewhere down the line, I’ve included ‘Language’. From there we can derive remote connections with skills and development of language. As language got refined, it got to development of education and learning.

    Thus, I had a mandate to include only a limited number of 10 events which changed human evolution. In that, I wanted to showcase the ones which evolved during our predecessor’s history such as Fire, language, etc.; the more modern ones such as Steam Engine and the future ones which we may be a witness in future.

    Other important events, probably, we may have to sew with remote connotations with the ones already mentioned above.

  7. Madhav Shivpuri says

    Nobody mentioned the invention of zero and invention of money.

    It was interesting to learn how cooked food changed our faces and skulls. Educational stuff.

  8. Dev says

    A really different and interesting read.
    May the last 2 events take place in front of me and not after me. :-)

  9. Altaf Rahman says

    @ Sriram!! Ha ha a nice one.
    Anyway, to the main article. If the guy who used fire 8 lakh years back see us, what he would think, oh these guys mutated badly from my physic. So if we extrapolate the mutation or evolution forward by a million years (if we survive those years) how would we look? Do we look like X-Men in those movies? :-)
    How Reliance Industries would be then? If I buy 10 shares now, how many they become with all bonusses, rights issues and stock splits?

    According to Mr. Himanshu, it is possible. I may travel at speed at light speed and come back after a million years without aging to claim my Reliance shares. It spossible :-)

    1. Arun Prabhudesai says

      Hey Altaf,
      Love your comments and especially the hypothetical situations that you present – make for an interesting reading for sure…

      Keep them coming….I am sure readers enjoy it :)

  10. Sriram Vadlamani says

    This is a great list Viral.

    You forgot about the reality shows though.

  11. Barry says

    Wow…perhaps the biggest invention of prehistory is left off the list: the flaked stone weapon/tool. I would also add bow and arrow (perhaps 50k years ago). And another advantage of fire is that it kept predators away (but also announced your presence to other Homo erecti…could be dangerous.

  12. himanshu says

    for point no 9 if you say travelling by speed of light……till now that is not possible as the light consist of photons & has a certin mass…..controlled by the Einstein law of relativity so of you cross the speed of light the mass will tend to zero…..But still that is not possible.Theoritically if you go in advanced calculations the age at the speed of light is tends to constant .If in future sombody travels with speed of light minus the uncertinity principe of Heisenberg his age will become constant and he will be able to go to other Galaxies.

  13. apu says

    “For almost 2 million years they lived the same life with out any evolution.” – errr, I think scientifically, this is not possible. Evolution is a constant, whether or not it produces events that we think of as having ‘magnitude’.

    1. Arun Prabhudesai says

      Apu..thats a good observation and probably right in what you are saying…I guess what Viral meant to say was that during this earlier period, not many events took place that changed the way humans lived their lives…

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