Taryn Wilton, of Westland High School, asks :-
How did the human race start?
Michael Green, an anthropologist at the University of Otago, responded.
Our modern species, Homo sapiens, is descended from an earlier human species called Homo erectus which lived from 1.8 million years ago until about 500,000 years ago in Africa and Asia. In fact, the first human species was Homo habilis at 1.9 million years ago in Africa. All of these different species are called human because they possess the three features which anthropologists agree as defining a human. They walk upright, have a large brain and use culture as their primary means of adapting to their environment.
If your question is how did humans first appear, then the answer is that some earlier pre-human ancestor began to develop certain biological and behavioural characteristics that enabled them to cope better with their changing environment. They began to spend some of their time on two legs instead of four, their brains began to get bigger and they began to use tools, like stones to crack nuts open or twigs to get termites out of their nests so that they could be eaten. These things didn't all happen at once and probably took at least 4 to 5 million years to develop. They all came together about 2 million years ago with the appearance of Homo habilis, the first true human.