From 100,000 to 10,000 years ago humans moved out of Africa and into most of the rest of the world. In addition, human societies became more varied and complex. Evidence of this is in their development of exceptional technological creativity, which allowed humans to exploit a much wider range of ecological niches.
While some other animals have been able to move to a radically new environment, they have only been able to accomplish this by undergoing extreme biological change. The hairy mammoth, which was able to survive the extreme temperature of the tundra, was a relative of the African elephant, who lives in the tropics. Humans, without having to adapt themselves biologically, are the same genus and species in all environments where they live.
In this unit, students will hypothesize about the factors that may have urged humans to move into more challenging geographic environments. Students will also investigate the new skills and technologies early humans might have learned to accomplish these moves. This complex problem-solving capacity is unique to humans and differentiates them from other animal species. While humans have been able to extend their habitat to encompass the entire globe, including outer space, chimpanzees, for example, are confined to an ever-shrinking habitat in western Africa. The lesson in this unit explores using maps and descriptions of
biomes describing how humans adapted to a wide range of environments.