Made with Xara Website by Susan Smily The Beginnings of Mankind Notes by Dr. Honora M. Finkelstein All hominids (among whom are the ancestors of humans) belong to the family Hominidae and are divided into those of the genus Australopithecus and those of the genus Homo. Fossil remains of the Australopithecus, found in East Africa, can be dated to at least 3 million years ago, and maybe even earlier. The earliest member of our own genus was Homo habilis, who lived about 2.2 to 1.6 million years ago, who left behind stone tools.  This species was followed by Homo erectus (1.6 to .5 million years ago), who had a larger brain than his predecessor and is generally credited with having been the first hominid to leave Africa and settle in parts of Europe and Asia. Homo sapiens neanderthalensis, or Neanderthal man, developed during the Middle Paleolithic period about 100,000 years ago and disappeared about 33,000 years ago; he also had a larger brain and was physically more robust than his predecessor. Homo sapiens sapiens emerged in Africa at least 100,000 years ago, and like Homo erectus migrated to Europe, Asia, and the rest of the world.