The Stone Age is a period of history that started more than 2 million years ago and lasted until about 5,000 years ago. It’s called the Stone Age because the ape-like people, known as ‘hominins’, who lived at that time used stone materials to make tools and weapons.
But my 5-year-old wants to know where Stone Age people came from. So let’s find out more about our ancestors and human evolution…
As I decribed in my answer to why do monkeys still exist? there are so many different living things on Earth because of a slow and gradual process of change known as evolution.
Human beings have evolved over millions of years. The first known type of early human-like creature was called Homo habilis, which lived from about 2.5 million years ago until about 1.4 million years ago. Another species, known as Homo erectus (which lived from about 1.8 million years ago until about 70,000 years ago), was the first hominin to have walked upright. And Homo sapiens (human beings – like you and me) first appeared about 300,000 years ago.
Stone Age hominins lived in small groups and travelled around, making camps as they moved from place to place. They ate fruits, berries and roots and hunted wild animals. After eating the meat, they used the fur and skins from the animals they hunted to make clothes and shelter. Over thousands of years, these hominins learned how to catch fish, look after animals and grow crops – and they began to settle on farms.
The Stone Age was a time when hominins were evolving as they adapted to living in new places, developed larger brains, got cleverer and started to be able to walk on two legs.
To find out more about the Stone Age and early homins, check out these encyclopaedia pages, then test you knowledge with this Stone Age quiz!