World History Standards - Era 1 - Standard 1B How human communities populated the major regions of the world and adapted to a variety of environments All animals learn how to get food from their environment. But when an animal dies, all of its knowledge goes with it. Since humans can communicate very precisely, that rule changed. Information could be handed down by generation. Humans slowly accumulated more and more new ways of dealing with their environment or preserving what they knew. We call this process "collective learning." When modern humans show up in history, changes began to happen much faster. For a million years, stone tools barely changed. But when humans appeared, tools became more specific to tasks and more delicately made. The collective learning of humans allowed them to learn to live in new environments. By about 100,000 years ago, Homo sapiens learned to live in deserts and dense forests. No other hominins had lived there before. Evidence from DNA suggests that some humans left Africa as early as 70,000 years ago. Humans moved along the coasts, probably able to live off of fishing and tropical climates. There would have been plenty of edible plants in these areas. As human technology grew, so did the humans. Making heavier clothing, building pit houses, and becoming better hunters allowed some humans to move to the colder lands of Russia and Ukraine (around 40,000 years ago). At least 15,000 years ago, some humans crossed the Bering Strait (possibly thousands of years earlier). The Bering Strait was a connection between Russia and Alaska. By 10,000 years ago, humans were on all major landmasses or continents. They lived in Afroeurasia, Australia, and the Americas. Population grew, but the size of communities still remained small. There were more communities, but not bigger ones. There are signs that other hominins, such as Neanderthals, tried to live in different places and use the technology of humans, but they didn't survive. Early Life: Pretty much everyone was a hunter, gatherer, or fisher, although techniques might have been a bit different between communities. Around 10,000 years ago we start to see signs of humans staying in one place and having permanent settlements. This probably started at the coastlines where fish was abundant. Staying in one place probably allowed humans to experiment with early agriculture. They might have cleared weeds away from favorite plants. Many people probably died young from illnesses, childbirth issues, or hunting expeditions gone bad. However, early humans got enough food and probably had more leisure time than farmers. This mode of living was probably pretty satisfying and fulfilling.
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