For the past 40,000 years, modern humans, Homo sapiens, have been the only species of the genus Homo on earth. But there are evolutionary cousins in most of our history. They are also humans, but not very similar to us. They co-existed and evolved together in different regions at the same time.
Among our close relatives who are now extinct, some are widely known, such as Neanderthals. Other races, such as the recently discovered Denisovans and Naledi, have hardly been written into textbooks. Many other forms of humans have been found in incomplete fossil and genetic patterns, and we still know very little about them. Modern humans are just one of many species in the genus Homo.
It is a confirmed fact that modern humans have interacted with Neanderthals and Denisovans. DNA strongly indicates that the three lineages have crossed and reproduced in each combination-modern people and Neanderthals, modern people and Denisovans, Neanderthals and Denisovans. If the anthropologist’s interpretation is correct, we have also lived on Earth with the Floris, the Naledi, the Luzons, and possibly some later Homo erectus. The fossils of modern people and these races overlap in time, but they are far apart geographically. It is unclear whether our ancestors actually saw them. Finally, the genetic pattern implies that we also carry genes from other lineages that have not yet been linked to physical fossils. They are currently called “ghost races”.
The mandible fossil of this adult Homo sapiens was unearthed in the Jebel Yiro region in Morocco. The well-preserved teeth make people think of today’s humans.
All in all, since our species was born about 300,000 years ago, there have been seven or more ancient humans.
Thanks to new archaeological excavations, Denisovans, Naledi, and Luzons were only revealed in the past decade. The discovery of the Denisovans also used ancient DNA. This relatively new technology has great potential for discovering extinct lineages. In the past, anthropologists would argue whether a toe bone or tooth that looks very similar to us really belongs to our race, but ancient DNA can determine the location of the fossil in the evolutionary tree. For example, the first discovery about the Denisovan was just a little finger bone. No one would have guessed that this humble fossil came from a previously unknown branch of human evolution. Its DNA locates it in a pedigree that separated from modern people more than 520,000 years ago and from Neanderthals about 400,000 years ago.
The earliest skeletal fossils that are widely recognized as belonging to our Homo sapiens are from the Jebel Yiro site in Morocco and date back to 315,000 years ago. Next are the 160,000 and 195,000-year-old fossils from Huto and Omoki Bish in Ethiopia. 300,000 years ago is a rough but reliable estimate of the starting date of our race, which is consistent with the age of the common ancestor of all living humans estimated by genetic studies.
However, the origin of mankind was much earlier than modern man. The ancestors of gorillas and humans parted ways more than six million years ago. Since then, the branch of modern humans has included many species called ancient humans. Some of them continued to evolve into modern people, while most of them went extinct.
Early humans were like apes walking upright, including Chad Shah, Earth apes, and Australopithecus (such as the fossil “Lucy”). Some ancient humans 2.8 million years ago had large enough brains and anatomical features similar to modern humans, so anthropologists judged them to be members of the Homo genus, which we call humans. For millions of years, many ancient humans co-existed on the earth, and then humans were born. Therefore, the answer to the question “how many humans lived in the same period as our ancestors” depends on the time frame.
Since the emergence of Homo sapiens, there have been as many as seven or more human beings living on the earth, and today only us are left. This is a peculiar period in human evolution.