Introduction People all over the world wonder and question who lived and what happened before “us.” Mysteries about these people and times are still being discovered, some are already discovered, and some will never be discovered. However, now you can learn all about the early life of one early human group. You will find out all about Homo Erectus and their lives, what they did, and how they survived. But did they survive or did they die… Keep reading to find out.
Dates and Places of Existence Homo Erectus lived from 1.5 million to 250,000 years ago. Homo Erectus fossils have been found in Vietnam and Java. They roamed over a wide area, as they hunted migrating animals and foraged for plants. They lived in Africa and then merged into China, Europe, and Asia because of scare foods and not enough habitat to build shelters. (1)
Physical Appearance These hairy creatures were much taller than previous hominids such as Homo Habilis. Homo Erectus was the first early human to walk upright without stooping or using their hands. In fact, Homo Erectus means upright man. They had larger teeth and a larger jaw than modern humans. Homo Erectus had a flat face and a sloped forehead. They had a big bump at the back of their head, and they also had a very thick skull. Homo Erectus were around five feet and ten inches tall. (2)
Shelter Homo Erectus lived in deep caves. They also lived in stick huts or grass huts. After Homo Erectus left Africa, they went to Europe, and then Asia. Some scientists believe that Homo Erectus left Asia and traveled to North and South America. They liked more mild weather as opposed to humid weather and freezing weather. (3)
Food Homo Erectus ate many different types of berries. Also they ate roots, wheat, grass, and meat from the animals they hunted. Unfortunately food didn’t just fall out of the sky. Homo Erectus had to move from place to place because food was very scarce. (4)
Daily Life Homo Erectus mostly hunted and looked for food in their daily lives. They would carve rocks as tools to hunt down animals. The woman would collect berries, fruits, and vegetables. The men would go on bison hunts, and hunt other animals, too. The children would stay back in camp and play or learn skills. (5)
Tools Since their brains were larger than previous hominids, they were capable of making new tools. Bolas, or stones wrapped in skins tied with pieces of leather, were found around Homo Erectus burial sites. Since these were found, Homo Erectus possessed advanced hunting techniques. They also made sophisticated hand axes that had more use than earlier tools. The hand axes were used for a variety of purposes, such as cutting meat, chopping down trees, and digging. (6)
Fire Since Homo Erectus brains were bigger, they were the first early humans to make fire. Fossils of their remains have been found near fire-blackened hearths from 360,000 years ago. They used fire to their advantage in hunting by catching frightened animals as they ran away from the flames. They had about two hearths in every camp. (7, 8)
Religion and Ceremonies Homo Erectus did not have religion or ceremonies, nor did they paint or carve. They were more worried about staying alive and eating. (9) Religion and Ceremonies
Development of Language Homo Erectus did not have any form of written language. But they did communicate. Homo Erectus communicated by using hand signals and grunting noises. However, their communicating wasn’t complex like ours today. Homo Erectus communicated simply about things like going hunting or eating. (10)
Clothing The Homo Erectus did not wear much clothing. However, they wore a thick coat of animal skin around their waists. They also wore a skirt-like thing over that. They did not wear any footwear. During the winter, they wore a thick piece of animal skin draped over their shoulders. (11)
Conclusion Homo Erectus had many achievements that moved humans forward. They were the first to learn to use fire, the first to walk upright without stooping or using their hands, and the first to make advanced tools. They were an incredible group about which to learn.
Questions Did Homo Erectus have religion or ceremonies? Why or why not? What does Homo Erectus mean and why do you think they were given that name? Were Homo Erectus the first group of early humans to use fire?
Answers Homo Erectus did not have religion or ceremonies because they were simply focused on surviving. Homo Erectus means upright man, and this is a good name for them because they are the first group to stand up straight without stooping and to walk without using their hands. Yes, they were.
Endnotes 1. Kearns, Marsha, “Homo Erectus,” Early Humans, Creative Teaching Press, CA, 1993, p. 128. 2. Ibid. 3. http://www.nationalgeographic.com. 4. Kearns, Marsha, “Homo Erectus,” Early Humans, p. 128. 5. Ibid. 6. Ibid. 7. Ibid. 8. http://www.archaeologyinfo.com/homoerectus.htm. 9. California Visits Ancient Civilizations, Macmillan McGraw-Hill, New York, NY, 2007, p. 73. 10. Kearns, Marsha, “Homo Erectus,” Early Humans, p. 128. 11. Ibid.
Bibliography California Visits Ancient Civilizations. Macmillan/MacGraw Hill: New York, NY, 2007. Facchini, Fiorenzo. A Day with Homo Erectus. Books: Connecticut, Twenty-First Century, 2003. “Homo Erectus.” Homo Erectus. http://www.earlyhumans.mrdonn.org/. Kearns, Marsha.“Homo Erectus.” Early Humans. Creative Teaching Press: CA, 1993. www.archaeologyinfo.com/homoerectus.htm www.nationalgeographic.com www.stanford.edu/~harryg/protected/chp22.htm